Facebook to Fund Candidates, Establishes PAC

Facebook doesn’t just want more friends. It wants more friends in high places.

The social networking firm filed paperwork Monday to establish a political action committee (PAC) that would direct funds to candidates running in the 2012 presidential election.

Facebook follows another Silicon Valley giant, Google, in establishing a PAC and comes on the heels of several social media companies becoming more involved in this election cycle, holding online town halls and sponsoring debates.

Corporations cannot legally contribute directly to a candidate. They, instead, create PACs that collect employee contributions voluntarily. Those contributions are then donated to candidates with positions usually favorable to the company.

“FB PAC will give our employees a way to make their voice heard in the political process by supporting candidates who share our goals of promoting the value of innovation to our economy while giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected,” Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said in an email.

Tech companies are increasingly looking for new footholds inside Washington’s halls of power and new ways their offerings can influence the political conversation. Google co-sponsored the GOP debate in Florida last week. Facebook held a digital town hall Monday with Republican members of Congress and LinkedIn, the jobs networking site, held a similar event with President Obama.

Facebook, which opened a corporate office in Washington, D.C., in 2007, has increasingly lobbied Congress on a wide range of legal and regulatory issues. Facebook has spent $500,000 on lobbying so far this fiscal year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Facebook has yet to indicate which candidates the PAC will support.

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