Facebook Has Lobbied Spies, Storm Watchers: The Influence Game

(Bloomberg) -- For all Facebook Inc.’s appearances in Washington recently, the social media giant is a lobbying novice compared with other big technology companies. Facebook had few political influence efforts until 2012, and many of its targets have been unusual, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 

Facebook is one of the few tech companies to have lobbied the U.S. Marine Corps, the Transportation Security Administration, the Director of National Intelligence and the Defense Intelligence Agency -- all in 2012, the year it went public. Around that time, the company was teaching the government about the service to encourage agencies to participate. It was also setting rules around what data can be used in government investigations. The company cited its public filings in response to questions about its lobbying activity.

In 2014, Facebook lobbied the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Agency for International Development -- also unusual targets for a tech company. Facebook had broad efforts to help fight Ebola around that time, and was also working on a tool that lets people mark themselves safe during disasters, called Safety Check.

Facebook Has Lobbied Spies, Storm Watchers: The Influence Game

And why did Facebook lobby the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration in 2014? That year, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg wrote about ways to spread internet connectivity and proposed high-altitude drones. Soon after, the company developed its Aquila drone, which glides at high altitudes to beam internet to remote areas. Facebook may also have wanted to more easily tell users about the weather and warn them about big storms.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.