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Google, Amazon, and Facebook all spent record amounts last year lobbying the US government

They spent a combined $48 million — up 13 percent from 2017.

The US Capitol building reflected upside-down in water. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Rani Molla is a senior correspondent at Vox and has been focusing her reporting on the future of work. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade — often in charts — including at Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

Google, Amazon, and Facebook spent record amounts to influence the US government in 2018. They poured a combined $48 million into lobbying last year — up 13 percent from 2017, according to new government disclosures.

Lobbying growth among the tech giants — especially companies that leverage user data for advertising revenue — comes as they are falling under increased government scrutiny. Facebook in particular faces a record Federal Trade Commission fine over apparent violations of data privacy practices in the Cambridge Analytica scandal that was revealed last year.

These companies run the risk of antitrust regulation as well as laws that could inhibit their ability to collect data — and, by extension, revenue. Google’s, Amazon’s, and Facebook’s lobbying efforts largely go toward market and data regulation issues, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

The greatest growth in lobbying came from Google, which increased its lobbying spend nearly 18 percent to $21.2 million. Facebook’s spend grew nearly 10 percent to $12.6 million. Apple, which has increasingly criticized its ad-funded competitors for their data practices and touted its hardware security bona fides, was the only one of these companies to decrease lobbying spending last year:

Google, Amazon, and Facebook spend a majority of their lobbying on in-house lobby teams. Of course, spending millions of dollars on lobbying is basically a rounding error for these tech companies, whose profits are in the billions.

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