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How Facebook sells itself in Washington

Matthew Wells | Tuesday 1 March 2011, 17:02
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Facebook is these days valued at more than $50 billion, but you'd never guess it visiting its Washington DC office
It looks more like The Office than some K Street lobbyists' palace. But don't be fooled - there are plans to move a lot closer to Capitol Hill very soon.
I was shown around by communications man Andrew Noyes, a former journalist who was hired in 2009 to specialise in public policy (the first to speak in the film above). Then I met registered lobbyist Adam Conner - the original Facebook staffer in DC (first to speak in the interview setting).
The sceptical Facebook narrative they want to dispel on the Hill is that like it or not the site is a "ticking privacy time bomb" which is incapable of keeping its 500 million users' data safe.
But to do that, according to the public figures available at the moment, Facebook is spending less than $500,000 per year on lobbying in Washington - chicken feed in big corporation terms. Facebook has only two registered lobbyists. It's impossible to believe that isn't going to trend upwards, though, and pretty quickly. Or maybe Facebook really is breaking the mould and just doesn't need to curry favour in the corridors.
Everybody with a big, growing business wants to make Washington see their point of view and, with more and more to lose, surely Facebook won't prove to be a unique case. But hearing the idealistic enthusiasm from Conner and Noyes, as it exists now, is sort of refreshing.
Of course, unlike lobbyists for many other companies, Facebook's team finds it relatively easy to get attention: many politicians are interested to learn about Facebook as a (free) means to promote themselves ... or just to find out what their kids are up to.
Post categories: Internet


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