Facebook reportedly spearheading political-advocacy group

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According to a recent Washington Post report, Facebook is working behind the scenes to help launch a new political-advocacy group. Dubbed American Edge, the group aims to convince lawmakers that Silicon Valley is essential to the U.S. economy and the future of free speech. Seeing as Facebook hasn’t officially announced the group, those familiar with Facebook’s efforts spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity.

According to incorporation documents filed in Virginia, American Edge was formed as a nonprofit organization in December 2019 and registered an accompanying foundation in April 2020. Facebook is viewed as the primary driver of the group’s launch, though sources said Facebook isn’t the only company involved.

When asked about the group, Facebook confirmed its participation in the launch of American Edge. Spokesman Andy Stone told the Washington Post, “We’re working with a diverse group of stakeholders to help build support for our industry, and while we’re leading an effort to start this coalition, it’s one of many we are contributing to and supporting.”

Facebook’s involvement in the launch of the group threatens to further infuriate the social media platform’s top critics though. Amid a slew of scandals and missteps, the Federal Trade Commission is currently investigating Facebook for violations of antitrust laws. Other inquiries have included an exploration of the tech giant’s past acquisitions of its former rivals, including Instagram and WhatsApp.

The negative attention hasn’t curbed Facebook’s lobbying efforts in Washington though. Just last year, federal ethics records showed that the company spent more than $16.7 million to influence regulators. According to the Washington Post, Facebook continued to shell out an additional $5.2 million over the first three months of 2020.

According to John Ashbrook, a Republican consultant advising the group, “The American Edge Project is dedicated to the bipartisan proposition that American innovators are an essential part of U.S. economic health, national security and individual freedoms.”

Ashbrook added that the group has partnered with a “diverse set of stakeholders” but declined to name any specific corporate backers.