Facebook Says It's Immune from Washington State Law



I see lots about the potentially-negative effects of advertising, and not a mention of ad blockers.

I'm all for holding Facebook and other giant corporations to every regulation we've placed upon them, so I support The Stranger's efforts, here. But also recognize that if Facebook and their clients are able to influence public opinion sufficiently to swing elections, then the have a bigger problem than this lawsuit addresses.

Teaching people to avoid all advertising and helping make it practical for them to do so would solve this problem regardless of the current and future sources of messaging and regardless of legal jurisdiction of message sources and communications service providers.

The idea of separating information that is intended to influence people into categories of political advertising--attempts to influence people for political gain--and commercial advertising--attempts to influence people for monetary gain--seems antiquated in a time when this done on a high-volume, digital, self-service manner. Legislating around it seems short-sighted. Using technical solutions en masse could lead to an arms race, but at least then we would see the conflict clearly.



I do love me an ad-blocker, but The Stranger is going to need a new business model if we all disable internet ads. That's an especially high hurdle for what has always been a free paper.


Yes. In order to solve the problem of people being negatively-affected by influence-for-fee service providers, those businesses which fund their operation by selling the service of influencing people will likely need to reevaluate their business models.



Unfortunately, crippling overt advertising won't hold back those who seek to influence others, they'll just put up their directly-funded web sites, and pay people to produce entertaining or compelling content with the desired bias baked right in.

This is the Fox News business model, the russian Internet Research Agency approach, the genesis of a thousand product-centric newsletters. And this bias-financed model can even produce great journalism-- the Christian Science Monitor has won seven Pulitzers, after all.

Something tells me you don't really want to prevent "influencing people"-- you've done plenty of naked propagandizing yourself over the years, after all. But I'll support an effort to curb the unscrupulous data-harvesting and depressingly obvious fraud permeating internet advertising as it exists today.


I feel that this is a rather complex topic. But keeping it simple given the current state of national law makers I'd really like to see states sharpen their teeth with gap fill laws to regulate tech giants. I'd really appreciate it if the state would tell Facebook to "Sit the fuck down. you want to make money in our state? Here are the rules."

Maybe after that we can revisit Amazon.


Thank you for this, Eli.

fb is too fucking big to give a flying fuck
the peonage won't stop them from making a buck.
Multinationalistic Corps rule the World today
Fascism is here to stay.



This ship (our country) is sinking under the weight of our own hypocrisy. It's happened to all the great empires. Lots of people get hurt in the process. Ther world tends to burn etc. Oh well. Super sorry to all the children out there. It's gonna be a tough life for your generation!


Eli Sanders and other dogged souls are all that keep us from tyranny's rule. True story. Thanks Eli.


@10: It certainly sounds like FB just doesn’t want to admit its data analytics simply aren’t good enough to deliver the resolution Eli’s request demands.

Which could be another, larger legal problem if they had originally sold some or all of these ads on the premise of great data analytics...



Calling this "data analytics" is a bit of a stretch. It's a matter of record-keeping and labor, and if there are two things we know about every silicon valley tech company, it's that they keep records of absolutely everything, and can't stand the thought of paying human beings to review any of it.

They're pushing back against this because they can't bear the thought of hiring human beings to review ad content for political slant, and then do the payment-tracing / KYC work in cases where the funding has been obscured.

Fighting fraud, it turns out, is a rather large expense for internet companies. Ebay and Amazon have learned to suck it up, albeit grudgingly, and to the very minimum degree required by law. The social media firms are going to have to bite the bullet, too.


Facebook is like MTV.. it was really cool for the 1st few years...


Thank you, Eli--keep up the good work.
FUCK YOU, Zuckerberg, and the rest of your ilk.


Nobody is above the law, Mark--not even Trump, Kavanaugh, or you.


Is it just me, or does Mark Zuckerberg look suspiciously close to Omega Asshole, Douglas C. Neidermeyer from National Lampoon's Animal House lately? Nervous, twitchy eyes. are a real teller.


*Bill Stafford, not Ben. And knowing him, if he saw that error, he'd be pissed. Good work!


The heart of the "Russian influence" story is that about 60 or so Russians were paid to "sow discord" on social media. Because, you know, it's not like we don't already have millions upon millions of Americans who do that already for free on their own time.

Given The Stranger's curious, totally coincidental I'm sure, hyperpartisanship, any argument against Facebook about what Eli is pretending to be so outraged about could just as easily apply to The Stranger's content, which arguably, is political advertising in of itself whenever it covers politics when viewed from the same standard. The same CDA protecting Facebook protects your job, too, Eli. Might want to think about that.


NPR has done some amazing reporting lately on the influence of Facebook and other social media on elections, politics, and wars both here and internationally. Highly recommended for anyone interested in learning about the very real effects of wide spread disinformation and foreign influence over our democracy.

Just go to NPR.org and do a search for "social media."