back to article Meta fined record-breaking $24.6m for deliberately ignoring political ad law

Despite warnings of Chinese and Russian mischief and manipulation ahead of the US midterm elections, it seems American companies and citizens are perfectly capable of denting democracy on their own. A Washington judge fined Meta $24.6 million this week after ruling that Facebook intentionally broke [PDF] the state's campaign …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Untill these judgments

    contain more than a rounding error in fines, years after the fact, nothing will change. Injunctive relive or backsides promptly in jail cells will result in lasting change.

    Delayed negligible fines will result in a doubling of efforts on the part of companies like Facebook and Google(and yes calling them by their real names, the alpha/meta crap is all for show).

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Untill these judgments

      The magnitude of available penalties is a problem with very deep pocketed companies.

      Perhaps instead of an absolute maximum have something like "$25m or 2.5% of global turnover, whichever is greater".

      While it would seem fairer to make it a "% of profit" these companies are so good at hiding profits (to avoid tax) it would be pointless.

      1. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: Untill these judgments

        Or possibly prison time for those in charge.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Untill these judgments

          Even better: a corporate death penalty, the whole company is shut down and loses all its money. Prevent it from meta-stasizing even more and causing further damage to society.

          Haha, how fitting, the word Metastasizing has both the words "meta" and "stasi" in it... Well "stasi" is precisely what Meta does, compiling enormous dossiers on 99% of the whole population, to sell ads. And also to sell to government organisations, such as law enforcement and the military, probably by the back door.

      2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

        Re: Untill these judgments

        Perhaps instead of an absolute maximum have something like "$25m or 2.5% of global turnover, whichever is greater".

        So have ads placed via an "independent" Meta subsidiary which conveniently happens to be worth about fourpence.

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Untill these judgments

          "The ultimate parent company will be fined 2.5% of the group's cumulative global turnover" - Then there's no hiding, anywhere.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Untill these judgments

            "The stockholders will be each fined 2.5% of the global turnover" may be even better...

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Untill these judgments

        Personal liability for the C-suite is what makes companies sit up and take notice

    2. icesenshi

      Re: Untill these judgments

      $24.6m is simply a cost of doing business for these companies.

    3. Nonymous Crowd Nerd

      Re: Until these judgments

      For all that this, like the others penalties, is a derisory fine, I think the cumulative effect is beginning to weigh on Facebook significantly now.

      Their drop in profits wasn't trivial and it wasn't all down to the Metaverse misstep.

      (Perhaps it should be called called one small misstep for a Zuck, one giant misleap for Zuck-kind.)

  2. JWLong

    I live in Washington St.

    Who makes these rules.

    Meta Corp. Is a piece of shit corporation just like the rest of them.

    Money is all that counts.

    Who cares, No one!.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I live in Washington St.

      There's shit corporations out there that would probably sue over being compared to Meta

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bums on seats!

    Preferably federal prison seats.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bums on seats!

      .. with the saddle taken off.

      Hmm. That one worked better with bicyles.

      :)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ironically

    the more a nation bullies it#s citizens into right wingery, the less effective they are as a world power. Look at the UKs decline and fall and learn.

    It's the same for left wingery too. For the same reasons. Gravity is gravity whatever you call it and wherever you are. Renaming it a commie plot doesn't change reality.

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Ironically

      Indeed, long known this fact, extremism on either side of the political spectrum looks the same

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meta-stasis

    One think that Zuck did right was name his company "Meta". What an apt name for a company that is literally a cancer that spreads throughout the whole of society.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metastasis

    Absolutely it is a pathogen, that infects our social relationships, forcing us to use it, or lose out. And the resource it extracts from us, in order to thrive, is our time and attention. Therefore feeding the pathogen's database by providing information that can be used for behavioural ad targeting. Thus attracting advertisers to the platform and supplying it with money. Which it then can use to further entrench itself in our lives. Quite a complex life cycle there, too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meta-stasis

      It's just a name fit for a dystopian sci-fi novel, where this giant corporation called Meta is hoovering up every scrap of personal information on us, building dossiers that rival that of East Germany. And through data-mining this corporation knows us better than we know ourselves... And police and intelligence agencies are trawling through it all as part of their routine day-to-day operations, looking for "wrongthink". And we are all surveilling each other for our "safety" and to stop "crimespeech"....

      Oops, wait, this is actually real and is going on, and it's not fiction and neither is it a conspiracy theory.... And I look at the clock on my computer and the year is "2022".... Well then that explains everything.

  6. CrackedNoggin

    Just get rid of section 230 and let the civil lawsuits flow! No way the law can keep up with it.

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      All this would do is destroy sites that are too small to eat the costs. Facebook, meta, whatever you want to call it today, can either afford the payouts or afford to bury the plaintiffs in legal bills.

      1. veti Silver badge

        The whole rationale behind S230 is that the volume of posts is too big for any reasonable human team to manage. In other words, it's specifically tailored to protect the biggest sites.

        What "small sites" do you think would be destroyed? Anyone who employs moderators would be fine.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Until laws prescribe criminal penalties for violating them, why would any company obey the law if the cost for disobedience (usually some kind of non-prosecution non-admission of liability agreement) is less than the profit gained by breaking it? I'd break the law, if you told me you'd give me a hundred million dollars but I'd have to then pay ten million of that to someone else.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Washington is only one state, and far from the biggest of them. What do you think was Facebook's profit from that advertising?

      Some relevant figures: Washington has 4.8 million registered voters, so the fine amounts to a shade over $5 per voter. And it's not a battleground state - neither party devotes much special attention to it at a national level.

      If every other state levied a proportionally similar fine, the total would be over $1 billion. And let's not forget the 50% surcharge in legal fees.

      Washington is doing its bit. If the other 49 states would just step up and follow suit...

  8. xyz123

    Meta is already $700 billion down.

    Zuckerberg keeps taking the company in unprofitable directions, and despite being the major shareholder, still has a legal duty NOT to destroy other shareholders holdings along the way.

    Can bet they're gonna sue for lost value due to deliberate malfeasance.

    1. veti Silver badge

      $700 billion? How exactly do you arrive at that figure?

      That's several years' total turnover for Meta, or about 3% of the US's entire GDP.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Excellent, just what I want to hear, keep up the good work, short sellers.

  9. MrMerrymaker

    fedbook by name

    Fedbook by nature

  10. Fogcat

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mindf-Inside-Cambridge-Analyticas-Break/dp/1788164997

    Just because it's not Cambridge Analytica doing it it doesn't mean their methods have gone away

  11. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Problem is dumb voters

    People who cannot think for themselves should be banned from voting to solve this problem.

    No, seriously. The people who are so easily led that they make voting decisions solely based upon pop-up advertising garbage are not qualified to contribute to the election outcome. Eliminate them and this type of election advertising will cease to exist.

    Yup, a totally untenable and controversial statement. But it would solve this issue around political advertising.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Problem is dumb voters

      It would be more to the point, and less controversial, to ban the advertising itself.

      (Also not possible, of course, but much more productive and no more unconstitutional than your suggestion.)

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