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Facebook Staffed Up D.C. Public Affairs Office Well Before Recent Senate Privacy Concerns

Facebook is currently facing charges from Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) that the social network does not respect user’s privacy.

Schumer told CNN, in a segment that also featured Nick O’Neill from our sibling blog AllFacebook.com, “the fact that you have to opt out, and the fact that the opt out procedure is complicated, clearly means that people have less control.” He was referring to Facebook sharing user data with third party sites.

Issues like this could be one reason why Facebook staffed up its D.C. public affairs office months ago. The office consists of four staffers, PRNewser has learned, and is led by Timothy Sparapani, a former senior attorney with American Civil Liberties Union. Adam Conner is Associate Manager for policy. The company also recently added Corey Owens, previously the Press Secretary at the Constitution Project, a D.C. privacy group to their D.C. team.

Andrew Noyes, formerly a reporter with CongressDaily, joined Facebook as Manager, Public Policy Communications in October 2009. In a PRNewser interview at the time, Noyes said, in regards to Facebook’s challenges communicating privacy issues:

You’ve got the FTC, which is very interested in privacy and consumer issues. They are the lead agency on this and they’ve expressed a lot of interest in taking a hard look at how companies like Facebook, Google, Yahoo and others are using people’s personal info and protecting data.

You have so many cooks in the kitchen so to speak so sometimes messages get muddled. The biggest challenge is making sure Washington truly understands what Facebook is, what Facebook offers and how it protects user’s information.

When we caught up with Noyes today to talk about Schumer’s comments, he sent us the following statement:

We appreciate the concerns raised by Sen. Schumer and expect that further dialogue with interested members of Congress about the user controls that accompany the tools announced by Facebook last week will alleviate any concerns they may have.

He also said Facebook is looking to make one more hire in their D.C. office. The Federal Trade Commission indicated they will weigh into the debate at some point.

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