Today’s top gamekeeper-turned-poacher news is that former FTC chair Timothy J. Muris is to join Facebook as a lobbyist in Washington. Muris, who served between 2000 and 2004, is a bit of a consumer hero, seeing as he set up the National Do Not Call Registry in 2003. The sense of irony is palpable, don’t you think?
Although the Financial Times claims that Muris is there to “defend [Facebook]’s privacy practices, it is probably more likely to be lobbying by any other name. Unlike Google, which is beginning to shovel serious shekels Washington’s way, Facebook has only just started spending on friending influential people in the capital–$200K last year, $40K in the first quarter of 2010. Although, according to its manager of public policy communications, it’s not lobbying, it’s “basic education.”
Whatever his salary, you can bet that Muris is going to earn it. Not a day goes by at the moment without another Facebook-privacy issue being made public and, with Congress weighing in, he’s going to have his work cut out for him.
Given Muris’s previous job, it’s also worth looking at what Facebook might be in the market for. Given its current stand-off with developer Zynga, Zuckerberg could be looking to enhance his site’s portfolio with a game developer here or there–Rockstar, anyone?–or maybe a software firm doing interesting stuff with pattern recognition, similar to the stuff that Google Goggles is doing.
For now, Muris’s role remains somewhat murky, though. I couldn’t even find dude on Facebook. Perhaps he’s worried about his privacy.