by Ailan Evans
Facebook lobbyists are struggling to meet with lawmakers, Politico reported, as the tech giant faces congressional scrutiny and negative press surrounding its business practices.
Several lawmakers’ offices are ignoring Facebook’s policy team and even refusing to meet with lobbyists, Politico reported. Several congressional aides told the outlet that recent news reports on Facebook’s business practices, including its knowledge of how its platform affects teen users and its amplification of “misinformation,” have contributed to lawmakers’ hostile attitudes.
“Mark Zuckerberg has done more to polarize the country probably than anyone else and yet despite that, the antipathy towards him is one of the most bipartisan things that remains in the country,” a Democratic House staffer told Politico.
Beginning in July with White House criticism of its handling of vaccine misinformation, Facebook has faced a torrent of controversies, negative press and congressional scrutiny. Leaked internal documents published by The Wall Street Journal and Senate testimony from former Facebook employee Frances Haugen amplified lawmakers’ calls for action against the tech giant.
“The problem right now is that the perception of the company is so negative that, even as the company’s working on things these members would care about and making improvements, they’re not receptive to hearing about it,” Crystal Patterson, a former Facebook lobbyist who quit last month, told Politico.
Lawmakers are also proposing legislation with Facebook specifically in mind; Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced a bill earlier this month stripping Section 230 liability protections from platforms that algorithmically boost content causing “injury” to users.
Facebook did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. Company spokesperson Andy Stone told Politico that Facebook was still trying to work with lawmakers to enact “updated regulations where democratic governments set industry standards to which we can all adhere.”
– – –
Ailan Evans is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.