Twitter Fined For Multiple Campaign Finance Violations

Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Tuesday that Twitter would pay $100,000 to Washington's Public Disclosure Transparency Account after violating state campaign finance disclosure laws.

From 2012 to 2019, Twitter received nearly $200,000 for campaign ads but failed to follow Washington disclosure laws by unlawfully failing to maintain public records about the political ads that ran on the platform has resulted in a $100,000 fine. 

Jack Dorsey, Twitter's chief executive, said in October 2019 that the social media platform would ban all political ads due to misleading messaging by some candidates.

"We've made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought. Why? A few reasons…," Dorsey tweeted last year. 

The judgment, filed Tuesday in King County Superior Court, notes that at least 38 Washington candidates and political committees paid $194,550 for political advertising on the platform between 2012-2019. 

"Transparency in political advertising is critical to a free and informed electorate," Ferguson said. "Whether you are a local newspaper or a multinational social media platform, you must follow our campaign finance laws."

"The Public Disclosure Commission appreciates the shared commitment of the Attorney General's Office to vigorous enforcement of the state's campaign finance laws," Public Disclosure Commission Chair David Ammons said. "The people of Washington, in their overwhelming vote for the disclosure Initiative 276 nearly a half-century ago, created one of the nation's most emphatic demands for transparency and accountability in campaign finance reporting. As powerful new platforms and commercial advertisers emerge in the campaign world, we must stay vigilant in demanding full compliance with all disclosure laws of Washington state."

Washington's Public Disclosure Commission first received notice from an independent researcher on Oct. 30, 2019, about Twitter's potential violations. 

The irony here is, of course, that Twitter - which has been doing everything it can to crack down on political "misinformation" - is now being dinged for failing to share information about its political advertising operation.

Find the full legal complaint below: