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Facebook is growing up, beefing up Washington staff amid more scrutiny

Update: adds disclosure of Washington Post Co. chairman's seat on Facebook's board

Facebook is beefing up its staff in Washington, a move that comes amid growing scrutiny over the social networking giant’s handling of privacy online.

The company this week posted two job listings on its Web site related to public policy. It is looking for a manager of public policy to deal with regulators and lawmakers at state and federal levels. That lobbying position would also lead outreach to pro-consumer organizations. Facebook also wants to hire a public policy associate who would attend congressional hearings and meet with nonprofit groups and tech lobbying associations.

Those jobs would bring Facebook’s staff in Washington to five. It recently hired journalist Andrew Noyes for public policy communications and Tim Sparapani from the ACLU, who is now director of public policy. Adam Conner began the office and deals with lobbying and policy issues including privacy.

Noyes declined to comment for this report.

The company has stressed that it is young and smaller than other tech giants such as Microsoft and Google, which has expanded its office over recent years. Lawmakers and regulators feel differently.

In a Senate hearing Tuesday on Internet freedom, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) criticized Facebook for declining to participate in the hearing. He said with 500 million users around the world, Facebook and Twitter should more actively work against countries that force U.S. companies to censor the Internet.

Privacy advocacy group EPIC filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in December over the social networking site’s change in privacy policies. The company said the change was meant to give users more control over who gets to see status updates, picture postings and groups users join. But privacy advocates said the change in some cases also opened up personal data more widely to the general Web.

The FTC has been looking more closely into online privacy practices of social networking sites like Facebook and Google Buzz, according to sources. The consumer protection agency hasn’t announced a public investigation of those social networking sites, but people in the agency acknowledge that they see social networks as an important area of concentration.

Donald E. Graham, chairman of The Washington Post Co., sits on the board of Facebook.

By Cecilia Kang  |  March 3, 2010; 4:21 PM ET
Categories:  FTC , Facebook  
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Comments

Pure self-defense. When you're that big, you can't just ignore Congress.

Otherwise, your competition will bribe ... er ... I mean "make campaign contributions" to ensure that Congress passes laws that hurt you and help them.

Posted by: targusowlkiln | March 3, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

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