Have you noticed some extremely normal ads from extremely normal "grassroots activists" who are really, really worried that if we break up Facebook, China will *destroy America* and that is why Congress must absolutely stop trying to regulate America's tech giants, the bristling colossi that stand guard to defend us from the menace across the ocean?



Those are extremely normal ads, because if there's one thing that extremely normal people love, it is *Facebook*. A lot of extremely normal people think Facebook is amazing, which is why extremely normal grassroots organizations like American Edge, "A coalition dedicated to the proposition that American innovators are an essential part of U.S. economic health, national security & individual freedoms," stick up for 'em.


Which is why the totally cool bros at American Edge found a bunch of extremely normal "economic development agencies" to publish op-eds in newspapers across the country to defend FB as a force for racial justice (reall!y) and American prosperity. They also used that grassroots money from extremely normal people like you and me to pay for a national advertising campaign about the "small businesses" that just *love* Facebook and want to keep Washington's "misguided" antitrust agenda in check.


American Edge, being both extremely normal and awesomely humble, kept their role in funding this national ad campaign a secret, not wanting to de-center those hardworking small business reps like Clayton Stanley who were stanning for the beloved folk hero Mark "Extremely Normal" Zuckerberg.


All of this is very normal and even heartwarming, and that is not diminished in the slightest by the fact that the hardworking grassroots activists at American Edge were working for an organization that was secretly founded and bankrolled by Facebook - a fact that was conspicuously absent from those ads and op-eds.


Indeed, even as Facebook was making nice to regulators and the American public and saying, "Please, just create some regulations that we can abide by so you'll stop being so gosh-darn mad at us," they were funding these heartfelt, sincere, secretly paid "activists" who were on a nationwide campaign to block all regulation of Facebook.


This revelation is both extremely predictable and extremely important, and Elizabeth Dwoskin and Cat Zakrzewski's *Washington Post8 article on Facebook's sock-puppetry and American Edge's cowardly shilling is a must-read.


They note that American Edge used Facebook's millions to rope in "a surprising array of partners, including minority business associations, conservative think tanks, and former national security officials."


If this sounds familiar, it should. We've seen this playbook before: "It’s a political playbook more common to other industries, including pharmaceuticals, tobacco and telecommunications." And it's also just the latest revelation about Facebook secretly bankrolling dark PR companies to push anti-China messages to distract from the myriad of ways that Facebook is harming Americans.



@pluralistic it's also somewhat reminiscent of the Netscape/Microsoft battles in the 90s. Netscape focused on the legal battle, while Microsoft focused on market share and ate their lunch. By the time the DOJ got in motion, the battle was over.

Moral of the story: bureaucracies move slowly. The market is having an effect on FB- just ask advertisers who have seen engagement plummet over the past year or two.

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