Political twist to Facebook

Written by New York Times | Updated: Sep 28 2011, 06:42am hrs
Facebook wants more friends. And it is willing to pay for them.

The Silicon Valley social media company has for the first time formed an old-fashioned political action committee and will use it to distribute cash to candidates in the coming elections. It is just one indication of how social media companies are integrating with the political landscape in a season in which these businesses are growing presences in the campaign conversation.

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, a company spokesman said.

The move comes as technology companies like Facebook are moving quickly to increase their influence in Washington amid increasingly complex legislative debates about patents, monopoly status and concerns about the privacy of users.

And it reflects a new desire among the senior executives at Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and other companies to use their technologies to be part of the political process in ways that they have not before.

Google co-sponsored a Republican presidential debate with Fox News last week. On Monday, Facebook held a town hall-style meeting featuring top House Republicans, hours after LinkedIn held a similar meeting with President Obama.

Executives at Facebook declined to offer more details about the PAC or to say which races it would make contributions to. The company confirmed that the PAC was incorporated on Monday after it was reported that it had registered the Internet domains for Fbpac.org and Fbpac.us.