For the past 8 months I have been working at Facebook, a company that I am sure many of you know and use on a daily basis! For the past couple of years, Facebook has been quietly building up their policy and communications team in Washington D.C. I had the privilege to work in their DC office as a Privacy and Public Policy extern.
During my time at Facebook, I worked specifically on the Global Public Policy team where I dealt with Facebook related issues specific to Latin America and the Asian Pacific American region.
Many countries that I dealt with have, in the recent years (post-Snowden), tried to force many large companies that store vast amounts of information from their users to give up their right to that data. In other words, those companies want to own FB user data and this trend has simply come to be known as data localization. This trend picked up momentum after the infamous Snowden revelations caused many countries to rethink whether US companies were adequate in storing sensitive data of their users. Data localization has become a very important topic that has been discussed in recent years and Facebook and many other tech companies have been at the forefront of advocating why data localization actually makes it worse for the protection and safety of users’ data.
In addition to my work tracking data localization legislation, I also was able to attend many trade association meetings on behalf of Facebook to let them know where Facebook stood on particular subset of issues.
Working at Facebook, I really understood what it meant to advocate for a certain goal. The work I did, which some would call lobbying, really opened my eyes to how my law degree makes a huge impact in policy making capabilities as well. In certain instances, I was able to brief my team (some of whom never went to law school) on areas of Intellectual Property law that they were not well rehearsed in. It was also quite a humbling experience when my manager would ask me my opinion on certain issues and really tried to understand my perspective on an issue and used my understanding as an argument for or against a particular project. As law students, sometimes we feel like we are at the bottom of the totem pole, and while that still may be true, we are also at the “peak” of our knowledge base. We know the most current issues and laws and for some people who have been in the “industry” for a while, having us is tremendously beneficial.
Apart from analyzing legislation, I was also tasked with writing “briefers” when Facebook executives met with any key Heads of State. Briefers are fairly lengthy documents that, when picked up an executive, he or she should be able to understand why they are having this meeting and its importance to Facebook. My task in preparing briefers was to make sure I included talking points, context for the meeting, and anything else that would be necessary for an executive to have a successful meeting.
In all, I had a great eight months working at Facebook. Never did I think that Facebook had a team dedicated to making sure that their users data is being protected online, or making sure that revenge porn was taken down, and making sure cyber bullying did not become a huge problem. After working at Facebook, I can now say with confidence that Facebook is in the business of providing a quality product and always makes the safety of its users a top priority.