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Facebook starts political action committee

Amid a furor over its recent redesign, and with privacy concerns tailing its every move, Facebook has filed paperwork to start its own political action committee.

PAC’s are used to distribute money to individual candidates, and observers see it as a sign that social media companies have an increasing stake in the political landscape, reported The Hill.

“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,” a spokesman said, “while giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”

Legislative debates about patents, monopolies and privacy have been been the main preserve of Microsoft and Google, two large tech companies that both have PACs.

Facebook has four registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C., and spent $550,000 in lobbying fees in fiscal year 2011. This is a big jump from the $350,000 it spent in 2010. In fact, in the second quarter this year, Facebook spent more than it ever has before on lobbying.

According to Open Secrets, the majority of Facebook’s money is directed at copyright, patent and trademark issues and media information and publishing sectors, but it also has a stake in natural resources and trade.

Most recently, it lobbied on the America Invests Act, which enacted the most significant change to U.S. patent law since 1952, changing it from a “first to invent” to a “first to file” system.

Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan group that focuses on privacy issues, told The New York Times that he was not surprised Facebook is looking to step up its lobbying efforts.

“Facebook is monetizing its platform,” Court said. “This is all about how much it is going to be able to push the envelope with consumers and not have the government require it to change.”

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