Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Facebook’s Lobbying Numbers

I'm writing an article about Facebook's lobbying spending this past quarter, which topped $4 million. What do you see as propelling this increasingly high spending? Are these efforts likely to (or have they already had) any impact on privacy legislation and regulation?

1. Facebook has paid close attention to Google’s recent triumph over the FTC, the lesson of which is clear to every start-up and establishment from Menlo Park to Manhattan: Lobby, lobby, lobby, and then lobby some more.

To escape punitive legislation, tech firms must aggressively educate legislators and regulators. Not just with lawyers and lobbyists, but also with engineers who can explain how the web works and pundits who can pen op-eds, publish reports, and speak at conferences.

Change on the web takes place so often and so broadly that any company without an active and integrated Washington presence is gambling with its future.

2. The skyrocketing spend is likely attributable, in part, to Facebook’s Graph Search, which promises to be the social network’s most privacy-impinging feature yet. Facebook is smart to ramp up its lobbying now, to secure buy-in from legislators and regulators before it rolls out this potential game-changer.

Addendum (1/24/2013): Success!

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