Groups to Facebook: Shut Down ‘American Edge’

10 Democracy and Digital Advocacy Organizations Oppose Facebook’s New Political Advocacy Group That Would Keep Financial Backers Secret

Zuckerberg and Social Media Icons

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ten organizations today urged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to shut down American Edge, a new political advocacy group that Facebook launched to influence federal policymaking through advertising and political spending.

The call came in a letter co-signed by 10 digital democracy, transparency and civil rights advocates: the Center for Digital Democracy, DemCast USA, Center for Humane Technology, End Citizens United // Let America Vote Action Fund, Harrington Investments, Inc., MapLight, Public Citizen, the Tech Transparency Project, the National Association of Social Workers and UnChainDemocracy.org.

The letter notes that Facebook, “the biggest lobbyist of Silicon Valley companies … is already well represented in Washington, D.C. and capable of advancing its views.” Facebook does not need a “well-funded front group to advocate for its interests – an entity that can make Facebook’s arguments, but not in Facebook’s name,” the letter said.

Further, the groups expressed concern that American Edge would be organized as a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization, which may allow secret money to influence our elections.

The letter also points to the revolving door that already exists between Facebook and the federal government, as key company advocacy staff have served in top positions in the executive branch, independent agencies and Congress. Facebook has limitless resources to lobby decisionmakers and influence public opinion, the groups noted.

The launch of American Edge, the letter argues, comes in the face of “threats of regulatory and legislative scrutiny because of its ongoing negligence of civil rights policy and threats to our democracy, repeated breaches of user privacy, and consistently new acts of monopolistic behavior.”

The letter concludes that Facebook must change its policies – not undermine democratic institutions – and disband American Edge immediately.