Cut to Washington lawyer talking to a Senator at cocktail hour...
Lawyer: "Senator, you know how kids use social networking sites to connect with each other on the Internet?"
Senator: "Yes, I believe my grandkids in college are on SpaceBook. I've heard that there are racy photos of kids up there drinking. I told my daughter that she needs to be watching their Internets..."
Lawyer: "Well, um, excuse me, sir ... my nephew has a page where he used it to get support for an endangered newt. And, from what I understand, my niece gets to communicate with other students her age from all over the world."
Senator: "Exactly, I hear that that there are racy photos of kids drinking and in their bathing suits on that MyFace. It must be the influence of those Europeans, or maybe it's those..."
Or something like that.
The bottom line is that quite often both sides of the conversation on Internet policy matters aren't generally speaking from personal experience in DC.
From Facebook's perspective, they have, at least, considerably changed one side of that dynamic by hiring their first full-time DC staffer Adam Conner. (who Twittered...)
Here is a guy who has a full resume of Web work that includes a recent stint on the Hill (as director of online communications for Rep Louis Slaughter); Internet strategy for a potential presidential candidate; helping a British MP with Web campaign strategy; and, working on the Kerry presidential campaign.
Yet, Adam only graduated from George Washington in 2006. (I still had my stint working at the Yogurt Bear in high school on my resume two years into work).
Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer and Head of Global Public Policy Chris Kelly wrote me in a Facebook note (what else?) that the company is "excited" about Conner coming on board, but is realistic that one person in DC doesn't yet constitute of Facebook "office" in the capital.
Despite (or perhaps because of) his young age, Conner would seem to be a natural to talk the benefits of Facebook inside-the-Beltway. He has practically lived his life completely online since college and, even when he was in school, he played a big role in bringing Facebook to GW and making it popular way back in 2004. Since then he has became a Young Progressive Democrat NetRoots Guy who, in his spare time, wrote about things like Facebook and Facebook and Facebook.
Adam can also be easily found talking about Facebook on YouTube...
The natural question is whether Facebook will work to soon hire a zealous Web communicator from the Republican camp.
And, as Google's made a big effort this year to demonstrate the company's value to politicians as a powerful tool for communicating with constituents and voters, it would seem that the natural role for Adam and any other folks like him would be to focus on demonstrating how Facebook can serve in the self-interest of political players and institutions. Among the set that thinks Twitter is a medical condition, they need to be seen as an important communications medium and are not just vaguely known for boozed up kids in bathing suits .