Facebook starts a PAC, sets stage to flex partisan musclePosted: October 3, 2011
By Keith Llado
The social media powerhouse company, Facebook, has founded their own public action committee (PAC) in anticipation of the upcoming elections of 2012, including the presidential election, according to a report published by the New York Times yesterday. Facebook “… will use [the PAC] to distribute cash to candidates in the coming elections…” to increase their influence in Washington legislative debates regarding “… patents, monopoly status and concerns about the privacy of users,” according to the New York Times.
“’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 said.”
Facebook is also following in the footsteps of the Internet giant, Google, not only in establishing a PAC, but also increasing its influence in Washington with an office based in the District of Columbia, in which the first employee was hired in 2007. Since, the number of employees in the office has risen to over a dozen, “… including four federally registered lobbyists.”
Accordingly with Google, Facebook has also increased its spending on lobbyists from $230,000 in the first quarter to $320,000 in the second. “[Facebook] has spent $550,000 so far this year, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.”
In light of recent debates surrounding Facebook, as well as other social media sites and Internet sources, as credible news sources in the technological age, this idea of those entities becoming partisan and politically charged adds a new dimension to the discussion. The perception of news organizations in the United States, traditionally, would have always waivered on the side of the media remaining completely unpartisan, objective, and unfettered from any influences that may distort the objectivity of the news.
What happens, then, when these new media forms begin to take on the appearance of newsworthy sources—such as Facebook and Twitter and their roll in the Arab Spring—while simultaneously formulating a partisan agenda with plans to exact that agenda in Washington? Is Facebook undermining its newfound roll as a perceived news and discussion source by making their partisan views and political agenda known? Should the consumers of the news in this new era of technology and free information flow simply come to expect the blurring of news and partisanship as normalcy? If not, is there any conceivable way to separate the two in the technological age of news?