Facebook accused of violating election law in Seattle

FacebookSeattle has become the first city in the US to attempt to regulate US political ads on the internet with the levelling of accusations surrounding election ad disclosure at Facebook.

The largest city in Washington state has said that Facebook is in violation of city law that requires full disclosure about who is buying election ads, Reuters reports. As a result, Seattle’s Ethics and Elections Commission has demanded that Facebook disclose details about spending in last year’s Seattle city elections or face penalties. The penalties enforced could be up to $5,000 per advertising buy.

Facebook says it has provided the relevant information to the Commission. However, the Commission’s executive director Wayne Barnett said the data handed over “doesn’t come close to meeting their public obligation” because they only provided partial spending numbers and not copies of ads or information about who they targeted.

The social network has been rolling out ad transparency tools over the last few months, which enable users to see the ads that pages are running on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger and require political advertisers to confirm their identities via a verification process.

Google is also facing Seattle’s wrath but has asked for more time to comply with the requests of the city. This lack of preparation is despite the internet giant being all for legal proposals for increased political ad transparency.