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Facebook and Amazon set records in annual spending on Washington lobbying

MarketWatch logo MarketWatch 1/22/2021 Victor Reklaitis
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CAPITOL REPORT

Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. spent record amounts on lobbying last year, with Mark Zuckerberg’s social-media company leading the so-called FAANG companies in outlays aimed at influencing Washington, according to disclosures filed late Thursday.

Facebook  shelled out $19.7 million last year, well above its 2019 total of $16.7 million, its disclosures show. Amazon  reported spending at least $18.5 million in 2020 vs. $16.1 million a year before.

The other three FAANG companies — Apple Inc. Alphabet Inc.’s   Google business and Netflix Inc. — didn’t set records with their 2020 lobbying spending.

Apple said it paid out $6.7 million last year, below its record outlay of $7.4 million in 2019. Google spent $8.7 million last year, down sharply from its peak of $21.7 million back in 2018, before the search giant reorganized its lobbying efforts. Netflix disclosed spending just $750,000 in 2020, down from its 2015 peak of $1.3 million.

The spending has come as Big Tech increasingly finds itself in U.S. lawmakers’ and regulators’ cross hairs on a range of issues, with both Republicans and Democrats questioning the power of Silicon Valley’s companies.

See: Big Tech has an antitrust target on its back, and it is only going to get bigger

Also read: Tech braces for intensified scrutiny following Capitol siege, Democrats winning control of Senate

Plus: Congress should consider breaking up Big Tech and limiting acquisitions, House report says

But FAANG investors don’t look so scared of Washington, as the five companies’ stocks all have outpaced the S&P 500’s rise of 16% over the past 12 months. Facebook’s stock has tacked on 23% over that period, Amazon shares have soared 75%, and Apple is up 72%. Netflix has gained 78% and Alphabet 27%.

Facebook’s disclosures show it lobbied on issues such as internet privacy, election security, worker visas and freedom of expression, while Amazon reported focusing on matters that ranged from postal reform to unmanned aerial vehicles, and from payment processing to autonomous vehicles and the annual defense bill.

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