June 8, 2010|
Everywhere you look these days, you find the seemingly exponential growth of Twitter . After dominating the world of upcoming social media lately, Twitter is now looking to gain a powerful foothold outside of Silicon Valley. The company posted yesterday an opening for a "Government Liaison" in Washington D.C. Twitter says they are trying to make their product more effective for "policymakers, political organizations, and government officials and agencies." The listing notes that they are building a "public policy department" to influence lawmakers to support Twitter's policy needs with patent law, net neutrality, consumer privacy and more unforeseen issues.
Twitter is by no means the first social media company to try and conquer Capitol Hill. Facebook has been heavily invested in lobbying for several causes in recent years. In June 2009, Facebook hired notable former ACLU senior counsel Timothy Sparapani to head their lobbying division in Washington and advocate for them to Congress. Facebook is the leader in confronting regulation of internet companies that collect, store and use people's personal data. Only eight months after they added a dedicated lobbyist, Facebook expanded their Washington division twice over, adding a "public policy manager" and "public policy associate" to the team.
However, when it comes to tech companies staking their claim to Washington, Google, as always, is the biggest kid on the block . Spending $1.38 million in the first quarter of 2010 alone on lobbying, Google has shown that they are willing to do what it takes to make the changes they want in Washington. John Simpson, from Consumer Watchdog, told Investor's Business Daily that Google is "one of the biggest high-rollers as far as lobbying goes". Still, they are up against even heavier hitters in the fight for net neutrality and privacy issues: main opponent AT&T spent a total of $14.7 million in 2010, mostly in direct opposition to Google's efforts.
Another important player in the Washington tech-lobbying scene is Research In Motion , the Canadian telecommunications firm that manufacture the most necessary Washington accessory-the Blackberry. After paying out a $612 million settlement from a patent lawsuit in 2006, Research In Motion has stepped up it's lobbying efforts, doubling the size of their Washington team in 2009 and spending $675,000 in the first quarter of 2010, up from their fourth-quarter total of $545,000 last year. Most of this money has gone towards further patent disputes, and, according to the Associated Press , "legislation on an inventory of U.S. radio spectrum" and "the trade of minerals from conflict-ridden countries like the Congo" which are used in their electronics.
Twitter has now entered the political spectrum, so we can most likely see more tweets sent from the halls of power in our Nation's Capital. However, their added presence to the already exploding field of tech lobbying may be a drop in the bucket compared to the efforts of huge multinational corporations who already have their pockets open in Washington.