Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Facebook's Growing Political Importance, Visualized

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, May 17 2012

To commemorate Facebook's impending IPO, the Sunlight Foundation's* reporting group has a new story chronicling Facebook's increasing political spending. Accompanying the story, though, is an instance of their Capitol Words tool that shows Facebook's increasing relevance in Congress as well.

Over at the Sunlight Reporting Group blog, Breanna Edwards notes that while Facebook still allocates relatively little to lobbying and campaign contributions, its political expenditures have increased rapidly in the past three years. The company established a PAC last year.

Sunlight's relatively new Capitol Words tool mines the Congressional Record for mentions of any word or phrase and breaks out who said it. For instance, taking a look at Google's history shows that the company's 2004 IPO was just the beginning of its tenure as a topic of conversation on Capitol Hill:

What was Congress saying about Google in 2004, when that Internet giant became a publicly traded company? Per Capitol Words, it had become a part of daily life — members of Congress talked about doing "the Google search" — but attracted scrutiny with nowhere near the level of sophistication around privacy or influence that Facebook is getting today.

A little note on the graphs: They're not on the same scale, so comparing them side-by-side to relate the two companies' mentions won't do much good. But Facebook pre-IPO is certainly getting more attention in Congress than pre-IPO Google.

* Personal Democracy Media's Micah Sifry and Andrew Rasiej are senior advisers to the Sunlight Foundation.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

First POST: Mugs

No surprise here, but email list open rates are down; the real reason campaigns want to send you a free bumper sticker; Hillary Clinton wasn't alone in dodging inquiries from the House Oversight Committee about private email accounts; organizing opt-outs from high-stakes testing on Facebook; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Edges

Let the White House know what you think about the new homepage; why Democrats need a competitive primary to maintain their edge in political tech; California Highway Patrol reminded to not talk about how they track political protesters on social media; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Anomalies

Rallying uncommitted voters under a centrist umbrella; a defense of aggregation for a positive-sum Internet; UK says no to ban on killer robots; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: In It To Win It

Hillary Clinton's updated Twitter bio; lots of election data-porn, if you're into that kind of thing; the debate over digital keys and backdoors; protests by hologram; and much, much more. GO