Mark Zuckerberg’s new lobbying group FWD.us is getting blasted by Josh Miller, founder of Branch, an online discussion startup.
After meeting with the president of Zuckerberg’s lobbying group, Miller says, “FWD.us is employing questionable lobbying techniques, misleading supporters, and not being transparent about the underlying values and long-term intentions of the organisation.”
Miller’s particularly let down because he thinks that Zuckerberg, and the technology people he’s trying to get onboard with FWD.us shouldn’t resort to the same-old lobbying tactics. He wants to see something truly progressive and unique.
Here’s his breakdown of how it will work:
FWD.us’ lobbying strategy, though pitched as “pragmatic” and “smart” by Beltway insiders, is typically only practiced by large pharmaceutical companies, gun manufacturers, and the like. It works like this: You approach key representatives who are on the fence about voting for comprehensive legislative reform and finance advertisements that portray their stance on any other issue of their choosing. In other words, FWD.us effectively bribes politicians by saying, “Vote with us on this controversial issue, and we’ll remind your constituents why you’re great on some other issue they care about — any issue.” Thus, the Keystone XL debacle was not an accident — it’s the strategy. Supporters of this lobbying technique defend it by saying, “It’s the way Washington works.” But given that Mark Zuckerberg and the other technology pioneers who are behind FWD.us have risen to prominence by spearheading disruptive innovations, reverting to such traditional lobbying tactics seems like a missed opportunity for meaningful change. Technology companies live and die by how innovative their products are, our organising and lobbying tactics should be no different.