Immigration reform, Facebook Home on Zuckerberg’s agenda


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other tech titans have formed a lobbying group to aid the industry’s recruiting efforts. (Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES)

It’s a busy week for Facebook and the social media company’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook Home, the new smartphone application, will be available for download Friday. The Associated Press reviews the software:

Right from the home screen, you see the things your friends are sharing on Facebook. Not interested in what Dave has to say? There’s Mary replacing him in seven seconds, and Jennifer replacing her seven seconds later. Mixed in are posts from some of the groups you follow. Facebook says you’ll eventually get ads there, too.

I hardly have time to digest a post before a new one appears, and in many cases I’m seeing only the first several words in a post, hardly enough to convey a thought. The good news is that I can pause the stream and view the full post at any time by tapping the screen. In doing so, I can comment on a post or hit a “like” button. The scrolling stream continues with another tap.

Facebook Home transforms the Android operating system it runs on into an extension of Facebook, but Zuckerberg’s company is not going so far as to offer its own hardware:

There had been rumors that Facebook was looking to manufacture its own phone, but Zuckerberg said that the company decided to make Facebook Home a software suite in order to reach a wider audience of the network’s users. A phone manufactured by Facebook itself, he said, could only reach a fraction of the network’s users. By integrating the software with Android, he said, the company can reach many more of its users.

Mark Zuckerberg showed off some of the key features from Facebook "Home" for Android.

See reactions to Facebook Home here.

Meanwhile, Facebook and other technology companies are forming an organization to advocate for immigration reform. Zuckerberg writes in a column in The Post today:

Today’s economy . . . is based primarily on knowledge and ideas — resources that are renewable and available to everyone. Unlike oil fields, someone else knowing something doesn’t prevent you from knowing it, too. In fact, the more people who know something, the better educated and trained we all are, the more productive we become, and the better off everyone in our nation can be.

This can change everything. In a knowledge economy, the most important resources are the talented people we educate and attract to our country. A knowledge economy can scale further, create better jobs and provide a higher quality of living for everyone in our nation.

Hayley Tsukuyama explains who is behind the new advocacy group:

Zuckerberg is the group’s leading famous face, but its list of supporters reads like a who’s who of the tech industry: Linked In co-founder Reid Hoffman, John Doerr of the venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Jim Breyer of Accel Partners and angel investor Ron Conway.

The contributors list is even flashier, including Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and other CEOs of big-name firms, such as Netflix’s Reed Hastings, Zynga’s Mark Pincus, Path’s Dave Morin, Instagram’s Kevin Systrom, Tesla’s Elon Musk and Airbnb’s Brian Chesky . . .

Immigration reform is an issue near and dear to the tech industry, which has said repeatedly that the current system restricts U.S. companies’ ability to recruit and retain high-quality engineering and programming talent.

The industry’s influence has already led a group of senators to consider doubling the size of the H1B visa program, which allows foreigners with special technical knowledge to work in the United States:

People familiar with the Senate negotiations said the likely outcome reflects the growing clout of tech companies with both parties. The computer and Internet industries gave $62 million to Democratic and Republican federal candidates and political committees during the 2012 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. A review by the center found that the top 10 H1B employers gave $8.2 million.

Last year, tech companies spent a record $132.5 million on lobbying in Washington, according to the center, placing them among the top lobbying sectors in the Capitol. Over the past decade, the industry has spent well over $1 billion on lobbying, making it the fourth-highest industry spender, according to the center.

Max Ehrenfreund is a blogger on the Financial desk and writes for Know More and Wonkblog.
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