- (Photo: REUTERS/Jim Young)
Facebook, the social networking tool that has become a way of life for millions of people, businesses and political campaigns, is extending its political reach with a political action committee.
The company confirmed that it has filed the necessary paperwork to create a PAC and has reserved the domain names FBPAC.us and FBPAC.org, according to The Hill newspaper.
A spokesperson told the publication, "FBPAC will give our employees a way to make their voice[s] 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."
Since Facebook's founding in 2004 by Harvard University students Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Hughes, Dustin Moskovitz and Eduardo Saverin, the company has grown – slowly, but surely – to be a political force.
Facebook co-founder Hughes coordinated President Barack Obama's online campaign in the 2008 presidential election, putting the Illinois Senator on the map in a big way. Since winning the election, Obama has met with Facebook CEO Zuckerberg at least twice – once during a meeting with tech industry leaders and again during a town hall meeting at Facebook's Palo Alto, Calif., headquarters.
Republicans are also using Facebook to network, along with the site's 800 million other users worldwide, and to host discussions. GOP Congressmen Eric Canter (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Paul Ryan (Wis.) took questions at Facebook headquarters Monday in a town hall meeting similar to the one hosted for Obama.
Facebook has also employed a number of former White House officials. Former Clinton White House official Sheryl Sandberg serves as the company's chief operating officer. Former George W. Bush deputy chief of staff Joel Kaplan heads Facebook's Washington office. Former Obama administration staffer Marne Levine is Facebook's vice president of global public policy.
The Facebook PAC may become an outlet for these and other employees to promote political candidates and political causes.
Facebook COO Sandberg recently held an exclusive, $35,800-per-couple dinner for Obama's re-election campaign. Hughes held a dinner in his home earlier this year to rally New York politicians to approve gay marriage in the state.
The Facebook PAC will likely be a tool through which Zuckerberg can advance his goal of open information sharing.
Facebook is spending a total of $550,000 in lobbying expenses this fiscal year to weigh in on a number of issues including privacy regulations. Facebook began lobbying operations in 2009.
Facebook and other companies, including Microsoft and the Toy Industry Association, are currently arguing for self-regulation, rather than government regulation, of compliance with new child privacy rules proposed by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC regulations are aimed at toughening restrictions on online behavioral advertising targeting America's youth.
Microsoft and rival company Google both have PACs. Google employees donated $570,000 to its PAC, Google INC. Microsoft employees donated a whopping $722,000 to its MSPAC. Time will tell how much Facebook PAC will raise in employee donations.