Facebook is turning out as a sponsor for CPAC by donating $62,500, as well as planning to teach CPAC attendees how to use the website better, in an attempt to gain confidence with conservative voters.
CPAC, or the Conservative Political Action Conference is a change for conservative convention that allows conservative officials, activists, and organization to gather.
Just a year after Facebook, one of the biggest sites in internet history, began hateful rhetoric towards the right, condemning the “fake news” they said was being spread by conservatives on Facebook.
While most of silicon valley is starting to show leftist political views, Facebook plans to stay on top and help reconnect with Republican voters — which make up a huge percent of consumers.
Politico has the full story:
Even as the rift between Silicon Valley and President Donald Trump deepens, Facebook is working to cultivate relationships with rank-and-file conservatives — and the social network plans to help sponsor their annual gathering in the nation’s capital this week.
As the Conservative Political Action Conference kicks into gear Wednesday, it will do so with Facebook’s financial help and tech expertise. The company is donating $62,500 in cash to the event, a spokesman confirmed to POLITICO. It also plans to teach conservative-leaning candidates there how to use its platform to reach new voters, and it will hold a happy hour for up-and-coming conservatives.
Facebook’s participation in CPAC comes a year after it sparked a conservative media firestorm over a report that it stifled Republican-leaning news from appearing in the trending topics section of people’s newsfeeds.
But in courting conservatives, Facebook may have created a new political problem for itself: It is now sponsoring an event associated with Trump — who is set to speak at CPAC — just weeks after the president signed an executive order on immigration that Facebook and its largely liberal workforce vehemently oppose.
Conservatives say Facebook’s outreach makes sense. “They definitely need to be building relationships with conservatives,” said Rob Bluey, vice president of publishing at The Heritage Foundation. His group joined Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last May for a meeting to discuss its treatment of news, and on Tuesday,nearly a year later, Bluey said that the company has been “receptive.”
“There’s a sizable number of Trump voters who are using Facebook,” he continued. “I don’t think from a business standpoint [Zuckerberg] wants to lose those people because it’s going to harm his company.”
The social network isn’t the only tech company to have a presence at CPAC. While Google is not a sponsor in 2017, a company spokeswoman said the search giant will host a reception tied to the event on Thursday. The event, according to a source, will include former GOP Rep. Susan Molinari, who runs Google’s D.C. office. Google has previously provided financial support to the American Conservative Union, the organization that convenes CPAC every year. The group did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Spokespeople for Microsoft, Intel and Twitter said they are not sponsoring the event, though Twitter is lending CPAC organizers its so-called “Twitter Mirrors” so that participants can more easily post selfies to their accounts. A spokeswoman at Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.
Facebook has previously participated at CPAC. This year one of the company’s sessions — to be led by an aide to former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina’s unsuccessful 2016 presidential run — will teach campaigns and advocacy groups how to use Facebook to build relationships with potential supporters. Another session, convened by a former ABC News producer, will run through the ins-and-outs of how publishers can use Facebook’s specialty tools — like its real-time streaming video service Live and its 360-degree photo experience — to “tell unique stories.”
Echoing President Trump’s frequent complaint that the so-called mainstream media treats Republicans unfairly, many conservatives have invested heavily in building Facebook audiences they can speak to directly.
That dependence helped to spark outrage when, last spring, the company was accused of muting right-leaning stories on the site. The company quickly convened a California summit between Zuckerberg and leading conservative voices — including self-described “avid Facebook user” Glenn Beck, who, since leaving cable television, has developed a following of some 3.2 million fans on the site.
In some cases, CPAC organizers are focusing a spotlight on Facebook without the company’s help. One unsponsored session on Wednesday, led by the Trump campaign’s former youth director, is called “Liking Your Way to Victory.”
Not all the events, though, are so sober-minded. Facebook is also co-hosting a “next generation” happy hour along with the conservative Townhall Media; the Arlington, Virginia-based Leadership Institute, which trains up-and-coming conservative activists; and Hillsdale College, a Michigan school best known for taking no federal funding.