Facebook is helping set up a new political advocacy group in D.C., called “American Edge,” hoping to dissuade lawmakers against regulating big tech companies, according to a report in the Washington Post.
According to the report, the Facebook-backed lobbying group will attempt to convince federal lawmakers that big tech companies are “essential to the U.S. economy and the future of free speech.”
The organization is called American Edge, and it aims through a barrage of advertising and other political spending to convince policymakers that Silicon Valley is essential to the U.S. economy and the future of free speech, according to three people familiar with the matter as well as documents reviewed by The Washington Post. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the group because it hasn’t officially been announced.
In December, American Edge formed as a nonprofit organization, and last month, it registered an accompanying foundation, according to incorporation documents filed in Virginia. The setup essentially allows it to navigate a thicket of tax laws in such a way that it can raise money, and blitz the airwaves with ads, without the obligation of disclosing all of its donors. Many powerful political actors — including the National Rifle Association — similarly operate with the aid of “social welfare” groups.
Facebook is viewed as a critical, primary driver in helping to launch American Edge, the sources said, though some cautioned it is not the only one. On the group’s board are a former Republican governor, federal regulator and Democratic congressman, according to people familiar with the effort, and it’s being advised by a stable of veteran Democratic and Republican consultants.
Facebook confirmed its participation in a comment to the Post, saying the aim of the new organization is to “help build support for our industry.”
The creation of the advocacy group comes at a time when big tech faces unprecedented scrutiny over political censorship, election interference, and competition. Facebook alone is currently subject to an antitrust probe as well as lawsuits from the targets of its political censorship.
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Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.