Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen
Note: Facebook is launching a new lobbying group, American Edge, to fight lawmakers and regulators who are trying to rein in the tech industry. The group will not be required to disclose its donors.
It’s no surprise that Facebook wants to go faceless. The company’s reputation around the country and in Washington, D.C., has been sullied beyond repair due to an endless string of illegality, misdeeds and controversies. Facebook has been accused of damaging our elections, misinforming the public, stifling competition, violating users’ right to privacy and more.
Last year, Facebook announced a proposal for a privatized global currency, under its control, with the apparent aim of inserting itself in every commercial transaction on earth that it possibly could. For all the positive services it provides to people around the world, this is a company that evidences no respect for legal boundaries. Facebook’s hopes and ambitions are the stuff of techno-dystopia and conflict with the maintenance of a robust democracy, in which the people, not giant corporations, control the government and establish the rules of the economy.
Facebook thus faces a conundrum: A functioning, independent government is a threat to its global dreams, but even with its fabulous wealth, the company’s shameful record of wrongdoing prevents it from compromising government sufficiently. And so, we have the prospect of Facebook creating a front group and secret money machine. Money gets you an awful lot in Washington, but even in D.C., there are limits. American Edge of Despair is not likely to rescue Facebook from the overdue regulatory, antitrust and civil rights scrutiny that is now coming its way.