Facebook funded a lobbying group to plant stories in the media as part of an effort to manipulate the news cycle and gain support for fighting Big Tech regulation, a new report has revealed.
The Washington Post report reveals that a political advocacy group called American Edge was secretly funded by Facebook (now known as Meta).
The group has been manipulating news narratives by placing stories in newspapers across the United States.
American Edge aimed to oppose Senate-backed antitrust legislation that attempted to reign in Facebook and other Big Tech companies.
The lobbying organization commissioned studies, placed op-eds in newspapers, and worked with minority business associations, former national security officials, and conservative groups to push back against the bill.
American Edge used sponsored ads that focused on people’s fear of cybersecurity attacks from Russia and China.
The fear-mongering agenda echoes arguments made by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
American Edge accused lawmakers of having a “misguided agenda,” and wanting to “take away the technology we use every day,” while alleging that the antitrust bill would negatively affect small business owners.
The group reportedly specifically kept mention of Facebook away from its argument in an effort to hide the company’s involvement with the lobbying group.
A source who spoke to the Washington Post stated: “Facebook can’t be the messenger.
“If we are out there saying it, people won’t believe it as much, so the conversation is how can you set up a proxy.”
In the weeks following the Senate’s passing of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act in January, American Edge launched a campaign against the legislation.
The lobbying group released an ad featuring Clayton Stanley, President and CEO of Mississippi-based economic development organization The Alliance.
In the ad, he accused lawmakers of “weakening American technology, threatening jobs and making the U.S. economy more dependent on China.”
Another ad focused on the war in Ukraine and included a warning from national security officials that both Russia and China could gain a “technological edge” on the West as an “unintended consequence” of antitrust regulation.