Facebook reportedly lobbied George Osborne, the U.K.’s former Chancellor of the Exchequer, to influence the European Union’s data protection laws in the social network’s favor. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg also reportedly used her feminist memoir Lean In to win over female E.U. legislators.
According to Computer Weekly and the Observer, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg “asked then Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to be ‘even more active and vocal’ in his concerns about European data protection legislation, and to ‘really help shape the proposals’, during a lobbying campaign to influence EU policy.”
“As part of attempts to woo Osborne, Sandberg invited one of his children to visit a Facebook office,” Computer Weekly reported, adding that Osborne “offered advice to Facebook about how it could gain visas more quickly to bring employees to London.”
The Guardian also reported that Facebook used Sandberg’s “feminist memoir Lean In to ‘bond’ with female European commissioners it viewed as hostile,” and utilized it as “a means of winning support from female legislators for Facebook’s wider agenda.”
Facebook senior executive Marne Levine, who wrote the “highly confidential” memo documenting Facebook’s efforts to lobby Osborne, detailed that, “The discussion was going well until he was basically giving himself a pat on the back for having a woman as his chief of staff. Sheryl and I looked at each other, and then Sheryl very nicely said, ‘I think what we should be focusing on is whether there has ever been a woman in your job (the principal role and not the supporting one), and if not, why not?’.”
Sandberg’s response “had an impact on him,” according to Levine, and prompted Osborne to offer to host a book reception for Sandberg at 10 Downing Street.
Osborne denied the reports, claiming that neither of his children have ever visited Facebook’s offices, and that he did not lobby the E.U. on behalf of Facebook.