Facebook spending millions to make friends in Washington

The social network increased its lobbying budget to $2.45 million in the first quarter.

Matt Harnack/Facebook
Facebook is spending fast and furious to advance a social-network-friendly agenda with U.S. lawmakers.

In its first quarter of this year, Facebook, according to its lobby disclosure form, shelled out $2.45 million on lobbying costs. The figure amounts to a 75 percent increase from the $1.4 million it spent in the previous quarter, and a 277 percent increase from the mere $650,000 it spent in the first quarter of 2012. In 2012, Facebook spent a total of $4 million on lobbying efforts .

The company's lobbying budget is now in the same ballpark as that of companies like Microsoft and Google. Surely, Facebook wishes to appease the nation's lawmakers as it pushes ahead in fulfilling CEO Mark Zuckerberg's mission to make the world more open and connected.

According to the latest disclosure form, Facebook's lobbyists were once again keen on advancing the company's viewpoints on foreign relations and federal laws that deal with Internet privacy and child security. The company also lobbied for policies affecting online advertising, immigration reform, data security, and stock-option taxes.

Though not out of the ordinary, Facebook's increased spending points to a financial commitment to make friends in high places.

"Clearly Facebook has decided to buy its way into Washington," said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's privacy project director, in a statement.

Facebook isn't the only company with an interest in solidifying convenient friendships. Google spent $3.35 million on lobbying costs in the first quarter of 2013 and $16.48 million for all of 2012. Microsoft, which spent $8.09 million last year on lobbying, ponied up $2.53 million in the first quarter of this year.

Facebook did not immediately return a request for comment.

 

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