Facebook hiring international lobbyists

Facebook is planning to ramp up its lobbying power with the appointment of a set of ‘international directors of policy’.

It’s hiring people all over the globe, from the UK to the Middle East and Eastern Europe, to act as its primary contacts with government officials.

The lucky applicants will be required to ‘build coalitions with other organizations to advance policy goals on Facebook’ and ‘create innovative programs for outreach to policy makers on the opportunities offered by Facebook’.

In other words, they’ll need to persuade governments that Facebook isn’t a tool for mass disobedience – or an evil empire intent on stripping away citizens’ privacy.

“As Facebook has become part of the daily lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world, policy makers in many countries naturally wish to talk to us, and we wish to talk to them,” says the company airily.

“We are looking for superb policy communicators who can combine a passion for internet services like Facebook with a deep knowledge of the political and regulatory dynamics in their country. Successful applicants will become part of a team that is dealing with some of the most interesting public policy challenges of our times including privacy, freedom of expression, the impact of the internet on business models, and new opportunities for public service delivery.”

Facebook’s been increasing its spend on lobbying in the US, too. Its disclosure documents show it spent $230,000 in the first quarter of this year – way lower than Google or Microsoft, but more than five times higher than in the previous year as the company increasingly falls under the regulatory spotlight.

The European job adverts stress the need for detailed knowledge of countries’ regulatory and legislative processes, with EU experience an advantage – important at a time when the company is coming under increasing pressure in the region over its privacy practices.

Google made a similar move in 2006 – and with many Facebook staff being ex-Googlers, that’s likely to be the company’s inspiration. Let’s hope so, anyway: another possible precedent is the creation of the East India Company to help British merchants manage trade with India – and we all know how that one ended up…