Throughout the presidential primary and general election, Facebook has been trying to brand itself as a new way to participate in democracy, sponsoring town halls and debates. Now, it appears as if the social media giant is getting politically involved in a new way – lobbying. Last week, the National Journal reported that Facebook spent almost $1 million on lobbying in Washington during the last three months.
The $960,000 Facebook spent during the second quarter set an all-time record for the company in Washington spending. During the first quarter it spent $650,000.
Facebook's Political Action Committee was formed last fall and has been seen by many as a way for the company to increase its influence in Washington, D.C. The company has said it plans on lobbying for issues of importance to its employees and users, including online privacy and protecting children on the Internet.
“FB PAC will give our employees a way to make their voice heard in the political process by supporting candidates who share our goals of promoting the value of innovation to our economy while giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected,” a company spokesman told The New York Times in September 2011.
One of the big issues Facebook has made a stand against was the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) earlier this year. The issue was deemed so important that Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg made a statement about it on his profile in January.
“The internet is the most powerful tool we have for creating a more open and connected world. We can't let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the internet's development,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Facebook opposes SOPA and PIPA, and we will continue to oppose any laws that will hurt the internet”
The PAC allows Facebook to contribute $5,000 to any candidate during an election cycle and $15,000 to any party every year.
But Facebook is still giving out pocket change in Washington compared with other tech companies. By comparison, Google, which formed a PAC in 2006, spent $3.9 million during the second quarter.
Although it's hard to tell what or how Facebook will spend in the future, one can only guess that it will increase as the year goes on, especially during a heated election cycle such as this.
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