Documents were leaked at the beginning of March 2019 which shed light onto the many ways Facebook exploits influence, power and money to bend politicians to their way of thinking. Those who were tapped to change legislation include a former prime minister of Ireland, a former president of India and a former UK chancellor.
These findings come from reports by Mashable, The Guardian and Computer Weekly, showing quite a number of ways in which Facebook targets politicians the world over with tactics such as making investment promises or threatening to withhold investments. These findings revealed a secret global lobbying structure which targets legislators and regulators to sway how regulations are written to protect data. In countries such as the US, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Malaysia, India, even targeting the UK's former chancellor, George Osborne, as well as all the member states of the EU, Facebook has had a hand in making sure its best interests are met.
Taming The GDPR
Facebook lobbyed politicians across the European Union to get the "overly restrictive" General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) changed to meet their needs. As president of the EU, it is claimed the former prime minister of Ireland said his country could exercise quite a lot of influence on the legislation, making sure Facebook's interests would be taken into account. The GDPR is in place to protect private data, not to be suitable for Facebook.
Facebook and the former prime minister Enda Kenny scratched each other's backs, using the EU presidency and Ireland's key role in regulating technology companies in Europe, its data protection commissioner acting for all 28 member states. In return, Ireland got Facebook's European headquarters in Dublin. Kenny just had to do his best to tame the GDPR.
Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, wrote a feminist memoir, Lean In, that was also used to "buddy-up" with female commissioners of the EU that Facebook viewed as hostile. The leaked documents that seem to have come from a court case between Facebook and app developer Six4Three, also revealed that Sandberg considered European data protection to be a critical threat to the company. She said facing European legislation on data protection would be an uphill battle and that the laws needed to be changed to avoid overly prescriptive new laws.
Sandberg & Osborne
Sheryl Sandberg also charmed former UK chancellor George Osborne into helping Facebook to ease up the regulation that was to protect data for EU citizens. Not only did Sandberg help to launch an app-building course for children in 12 schools in London, Osborne's 11-year-old daughter was invited to Facebook's offices to have a look around. Osborne says he doesn't remember his children ever having been invited to Facebook's offices. It seems Facebook has absolutely no shame when it comes to exploiting its power and using its dollar bills to get what it wants.