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Amid rebrand as Meta, Facebook set a new lobbying spending record in 2021 • OpenSecrets
Written by ABC Audio All Rights Reserved on January 31, 2022
Meta, the new name adopted by Facebook in a recent rebrand, spent over $20 million on lobbying in 2021, breaking the $19 million record it set the year before. The company also spent just over $5.4 million in the last quarter of the year, breaking the previous record quarter of nearly $5.3 million spent in the first quarter of 2020.
On its own, Amazon.com spent $19.3 million on lobbying in 2021 with fourth quarter spending at $5 million. Meta spent $500,000 more than Amazon during the fourth quarter of 2021, and over $2 million more for the overall year. With its subsidiaries, Amazon Web Services and online pharmacy PillPack, Amazon’s lobbying spending totals nearly $20.6 million with its highest quarter spending at $5.2 million.
Google spent less than its technology counterparts in lobbying last year, at $9.6 million. For the overall year, Meta spent over $10 million more than Google. When comparing their highest quarters, in which Google spent nearly $2.7 million during its first quarter, Meta spent $2 million more. Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., spent a total of $11.7 million in 2021 including Google and its other subsidiaries.
Internet industry organizations and corporations collectively spent more than $91.4 million on lobbying in 2021, a roughly $11 million increase from the previous year and an all-time high for the industry. The three top-spending platforms accounted for more than half of all internet industry lobbying spending in 2021.
Last year, big tech companies came under congressional scrutiny as evidence from Meta’s leaked files showed the company had poorly handled the propagation of conspiracy theories, allowed political extremism to spread across its platforms, and failed to protect the mental health of children and youth. This led to a push for Big Tech regulation, and stronger antitrust laws in Congress.
Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s CEO, released a statement in 2020 showing support for big tech regulation. However, last year, Meta released a statement that called these acts and the Democratic agenda to build stronger antitrust laws finger-pointing.
Meta also increased its lobbying on computer industry issues to include proposed acts in Congress focusing on Big Tech regulation including the Health Misinformation Act of 2021, Justice Against Malicious Algorithms Act and the Algorithmic Justice and Online Platform Transparency Act.
The Health Misinformation Act of 2021 is aiming to hold online services fully responsible for allowing health misinformation to spread on their platforms.
The Justice Against Malicious Algorithms Act would hold online companies accountable for knowingly or recklessly showing content that can lead to harm.
Lastly, The Algorithmic Justice and Online Platform Transparency Act plans to limit platforms’ use of discriminatory algorithms, and to have these online services explain their collection of data and algorithms to their users.
Others added to Meta’s issue list, such as the Filter Bubble Transparency Act and Deceptive Experiences to Online Users Reduction Act, also target large online platforms and companies who use algorithms and user data for research, content distribution, and other purposes without their users’ consent or knowledge.
Unlike Meta, Amazon focused its lobbying on issues pertaining to cyber and cloud security, and a few other government issues like telehealth. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the idea of virtual healthcare to the forefront, and Amazon has used the opportunity to create its own telehealth service called Amazon Care.
Google also focused on computer industry-related issues such as cyber security, and consumer protection issues such as data breaching, privacy issues, and transparency.
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