Facebook had a cozy relationship with the White House when President Donald Trump was in power, but since Democrats have taken over, they've struggled to create a similar closeness.
According to the Wall Street Journal, internal documents that have become known as "The Facebook Papers" revealed that the company hasn't managed to find a lobbyist who will convince Democrats to leave the company alone. The result has been that Democrats are talking about regulations, breaking up the company and tighter restrictions.
According to the papers, the company can't keep a Democratic lobbyist. Ever since power moved to Democrats, Facebook has been looking for a lobbyist to go after the new president and persuade the House and Senate. They're offering a salary of $2.5 million, stock options and bonuses, but no one wants the job. Those familiar with the jobs also say that they're looking for Democrats and Republicans to fill out a high-level in-house lobbying team and for public policy jobs.
"Democrats who have passed on Facebook's outreach include veteran Capitol Hill aides, a senior adviser to Mr. Biden and aides to former President Barack Obama, including Valerie Jarrett, according to people familiar with the job search," said the report.
Previously, Facebook had hired John Branscome, a Democratic tech-policy aide from the Senate Commerce Committee and Daniel Kidera, who served as Sen. Chuck Schumer's scheduler.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn't have any close relationships with Democratic leaders. When former President Donald Trump was in the White House, he was welcomed for a visit. Photos of Zuckerberg in the Oval Office add to speculation that the company's algorithm is giving Republicans priority. For years the top-performing Facebook posts have been from conservative sites or personalities.
CEO Sheryl Sandberg lacks the relationships with Democrats as well. She may have worked as an aide in the Clinton White House, but she hasn't been in Washington for decades.
"Facebook's difficulty recruiting Democrats for Washington roles is the latest sign of the company's declining political fortunes and could make it harder for the company to influence efforts by Democrats to write tough new rules for internet platforms and take antitrust action against Facebook and other technology companies," said the Journal.
Up until recently, the lobbying shop was overseen by former Republican operative Joel Kaplan, Politico reported Tuesday. While he has spoken out on free-speech issues and dealing with right-wing figures, misinformation and ads for Trump, Kaplan never managed to sway conservatives angry about the censorship of Nazis and white supremacists and any effort, however meager, to stem false information on the platform.
It wasn't long ago that Facebook was cozy with Democrats, joining White House events with former President Barack Obama and even supported by many Republicans. But after 2016 things changed.
"It was like an overnight switch," said Facebook's former GOP rep. Katie Harbath. "It went from working at the coolest company to the company that got Donald Trump elected, in their eyes."
Problems persisted after Facebook refused to remove a false video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was intentionally slowed down to make it seem like she was drunk. Creator Mark Zuckerberg was personally involved in the decision and he attempted to reach out to the top House leader, but she refused to take his calls. Angering the third most powerful Democratic lawmaker in Washington, particularly one whose district has a Facebook office located in it, was probably not the best strategy for winning friends among the Democrats. Pelosi attacked the social network as a "disgrace" and an accomplice for "misleading the American people."
Now it appears Zuckerberg is facing the consequences with angry Democrats eager to regulate his company and unable to find a prominent Democrat willing to lobby for him. Meanwhile, all of the relationships with Republicans has turned into boycotts and conservatives fleeing the social media site for Parler or one of the new sites being started by Trump and his allies.