Facebook forms a political action committee

Facebook is steadily pushing further and further into Washington, now with the formation of a political action committee (PAC).

Facebook has formed a political action committee (PAC) to strengthen ties with Washington politicians. Facebook has already expanded its office and hired big names from the White House and Capitol Hill, but it wants to do more, and this is the first time the firm will back candidates, according to The Hill.

"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," Andrew Noyes, a Facebook spokesperson, said in a statement. The company has also registered the Internet domains for fbpac.org and fbpac.us.

Many large technology companies have PACs so that their employees can donate money to political candidates. Corporations are not allowed to give money directly to candidates, but a PAC is an accepted loophole, because it is funded by voluntary employee contributions. Companies often strategically give money to key Democrats and Republicans on congressional committees that handle legislation covering their industry.

Facebook hired its first employee in Washington in 2007 and has been expanding its presence ever since. The company started lobbying in 2009, spending $207,878 that year, and $351,390 in all of 2010. In the first half of 2011, Palo Alto has already spent $550,000 to lobby federal officials, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The company has also hired nearly two dozen lobbyists this year – up from just two lobbyists last year.

Facebook's lobbying efforts have targeted governmental agencies including the Department of Commerce, the Federal Trade Commission, and of course Congress. Much of this lobbying has involved issues like Internet privacy, online location-tracking, as well as reform of patent and copyright laws.

Facebook has also held live interviews with politicians at its headquarters. The last one was just yesterday.

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