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Facebook gets $10 million exclusive deal with gov’t’s US 250th Anniversary project

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies on Capitol Hill over social media data breach, on April 10, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
March 11, 2022

Meta Platforms Inc. – Facebook’s parent company – signed a $10 million deal with the America250 Foundation, a nonprofit tasked with planning the United States government’s observance of the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution. The contract gives Meta a prominent role in producing and promoting the events, documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal and later confirmed by the company revealed.

The two companies came to the agreement despite objections from those involved who argued that the deal would give Facebook an inappropriate amount of influence on a government project, people familiar with the matter said.

The deal was approved by Daniel DiLella, who acts as chairman of the foundation and the federal agency that it supports, the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission.

Under the contract, Meta is the exclusive “social connectivity” partner for the Semiquincentennial and gives Meta Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg a seat on a Semiquincentennial Corporate Leadership Council.

According to the Journal, the agreement states that “America250 will support Facebook’s efforts to catalog National Parks and Landmarks” and “Programs and platforms will be detailed to Facebook, and may include vetted influencers and content on each subject designed to encourage discourse among Facebook users.”

America250 spokesman Michael Frazier said in a statement that the foundation followed “a standard approach” regarding Meta’s sponsorship, noting that commission members “were informed during the process. In addition, the full Commission has been informed of this potential corporate sponsorship as well. A larger public announcement has been pending.”

“According to the policies and procedures of the commission, any contracts that include the use of the commission’s logo, brand, or identity require the vote of the commission. No such vote has ever been presented or taken regarding this contract,” said Commissioner Andrew Hohns.

Meta has since said that it is reviewing its involvement with America250 after the Journal reported earlier this year that four female executives resigned due to an alleged toxic workplace and inappropriate expenditures.

“We understood this to be a standard corporate sponsorship aimed at celebrating America’s 250th anniversary, which is why we agreed to participate and support,” a Meta spokesman said. “We’re reviewing this report and evaluating our participation.”

Late last year, three members of the commission questioned DiLella’s leadership, and called on Congress to “conduct oversight hearings” on both the commission and foundation.  

“We think it is time for Congress to conduct oversight hearings on the management, hiring, contracting, and financial practices of the Commission and the Foundation, and on how the Commission has spent its federal appropriation,” of $20 million, said Commissioner James Swanson.