Facebook's lobbying spending surged to a record in 2021

Thibault Camus/AP Photo
·2 min read

Facebook's owner spent more money than ever on lobbying in 2021, amid a growing pile of political and legal problems, according to its latest disclosure filing.

The record lobbying surge — more than $20 million for the year — came as the company faced the most serious political crisis in its history, sparked by revelations from whistleblower Frances Haugen, and sought to quash bipartisan legislation aimed at paring back the power of the big tech companies.

Record-breaking year: Facebook, now renamed Meta, had previously set a lobbying record for the company by spending $19.7 million in 2020. That makes Facebook one of the top lobbying spenders in Washington, outpacing power players such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Meta spent more than $5.4 million on lobbying during the last three months of 2021 alone, marking its highest-spending lobbying quarter ever. Its quarterly record was previously $5.26 million, set during the first quarter of 2020.

In 2021, the company reported lobbying on topics including the antitrust legislation moving through the House and Senate, along with content moderation, election integrity, blockchain policy and much more.

In comparison: Facebook spent more than any other major tech company in 2021, with Amazon as a close second. Amazon in 2021 spent $19.3 million while Google spent $9.5 million. Microsoft, which has been lobbying against the other major tech companies on issues including antitrust, spent $10.1 million in 2021, a roughly 8 percent increase from 2020.

Apple, which typically spends less than its big tech peers, spent $6.5 million in 2021, a slight decrease from $6.65 million in 2020.

Revolving door hires: Facebook last September hired a top congressional aide, John Branscome, to help the company fend off threats from Democratic lawmakers and the Biden administration. Branscome has hit the ground running, according to the latest quarterly filing, lobbying on issues including misinformation, open immigration and algorithmic bias.

The company's in-house lobbying team also includes a former staffer for Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, and a former legislative director to Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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