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Monday, May 7, 2012

Facebook as an Interest Group

Facebook is not just a social medium.  It is also a company subject to federal regulation, especially on privacy issues. Accordingly, Michelle Quinn writes at Politicoit has put politics "into its very source code."  COO Sheryl Sandberg has Washington experience as chief of staff at the Treasury Department
Washington Post Co. Chairman Don Graham and former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles sit on the company’s board of directors. The company’s policy team members were recruited from both parties and have high-level experience in the administrative and legislative branches.
“We’re committed to explaining how our service works, the important actions we take to protect the more than 900 million people who use our service and the value of innovation to our economy,” said Joel Kaplan, the head of Facebook’s Washington office. “We’ve made it one of our priorities to ensure that resources are in place to demonstrate our leadership on these issues.”
In what is thought to be a first for a pre-IPO tech company, Facebook created a political action committee. Its executives and board members have given to Obama and GOP presidential contenders Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
Facebook friends its allies by doing favors:
“Facebook made it clear from the beginning they wanted to help lawmakers make the most of the platform,” said Don Seymour, digital communications director for Speaker John Boehner, who met with Sandberg on a recent trip the Facebook COO made to Washington.
 “Their D.C. staff has not only been proactive in working with offices, they’ve been quick to respond and assist anyone who wants to better engage with their constituents,” he said.
Facebook has even spent its political capital behind issues some argue are not core to its mission, such as its support for AT&T’s bid for T-Mobile and for the recent Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. Instead, these moves are seen as part of its overall strategic effort to forge deep alliances on the Hill and be at the table should Facebook’s issues come up.