Facebook to meet with conservative leaders amid reports of bias
If you want an example of how much influence companies like Facebook & Google have over Washington these days, you just had to log on Monday.
"I'm going to need people watching to put pressure on their senators," asked President Obama while stumping for his Supreme Court nominee during his first ever live Facebook interview. It also comes during a week in which Facebook's creator is meeting with conservative critics who worry the social network is excluding conservative news from its trending topics.
"Well they've become two of the biggest lobby presences in Washington," said Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. He contends no one else is influencing elections, like this.
"I also think you see the impact if you look ahead to the political conventions this summer."
That's because unlike at past conventions Facebook and Google are the sponsors and will have a big say on what you see online.
Not to mention, the behind the scenes influence on lawmakers: each company is paying a long list of lobbyists to push their interests while Rotenberg claims Facebook & Google are essentially blocking measures that would increase on-line privacy laws that could hurt their business.
They're costly endeavors but the two companies have deep pockets. One tracking group says they spent over 16.8 (Google) and 9.3 million dollars (Facebook) on lobbying in 2014 making them special interests groups, with a serious say in politics.
"When you join a company's success with the ability to shape and control political dialogue, then I think some alarm bells probably should go off," added Rotenberg.
As for the meeting between Mark Zuckerberg and conservative media types, the founder of the social network has denied any evidence of political censorship or intentional influence on the upcoming elections but says they are investigating.