Facebook and Google have increased their respective lobbying budgets yet again, easily spending more in 2012 than in 2011. Facebook spent a record $1.4 million on lobbying in Q4 2012, passing the seven figure milestone in a quarter for the first time. Google meanwhile shelled out $3.35 million on lobbying in Q4 2012, passing the eight figure milestone in a year for the first time.



Facebook spent more in Q4 2012 than it did in all of 2011, when its lobbying budget was just $1.35 million across all four quarters: $230,000 + $320,000 + $360,000 + $440,000. Last year, Facebook’s lobbying budget was $3.99 million across all four quarters: $650,000 + $960,000 + $980,000 + $1,400,000.

So where did all this money go? Facebook’s Q4 2012 report lists the following specific lobbying issues:

  • International regulation of software companies; restrictions on Internet access by foreign governments; protecting and advancing online freedom of expression.
  • Federal policy on issues relevant to technology and Internet policy including privacy, security, protecting children and online safety.
  • Education regarding Internet media information security policy and Internet privacy issues; federal privacy legislation; freedom of expression on the Internet.
  • Education regarding online advertising.
  • Discussions regarding reform of immigration system, including temporary high-tech worker visas and
    employment-based permanent residency.
  • Discussions regarding cyber security and data security.

Facebook’s Q4 2012 was up 218.18 percent from the $440,000 the company spent in Q4 2011, and up 42.96 percent from the $980,000 it spent in Q3 2012. You can really see the growth on a yearly basis though: 195.56 percent between 2011 and 2012. In other words, this past quarter Facebook poured more than three times the money it put into lobbying when compared with the same period a year ago, and nearly triple the amount in all of 2012 when compared to all of 2011.



Google has been lobbying DC for longer than Facebook, and is understandably spending more, though its budget isn’t growing as quickly anymore. In 2011, Google’s lobbying budget was $9.68 million across all four quarters: $1.48 million + $2.06 million + $2.38 million + $3.76 million. Last year, Google’s lobbying budget was $16.48 million across all four quarters: $5.03 million + $3.92 million + $4.18 million + $3.35 million.

Again, let’s take a look at where all this money went; Google’s Q4 2012 report lists a massive list of lobbying issues. This is a select few of them:

  • Regulation of online advertising.
  • Privacy and competition issues in online advertising.
  • Music licensing and treatment of “orphan” works.
  • Intellectual property enforcement.
  • Consumer energy information.
  • Cybersecurity.
  • High Skilled Immigration and Job Creation.
  • Openness and competition issues in online services.
  • Autonomous Vehicle Technology.
  • Online small business advertising issues, benefits of cloud computing and online advertising for small businesses.
  • International tax reform.
  • Open Internet access.
  • Government access to communications.
  • Spectrum allocation.
  • Broadband Adoption and Deployment.
  • Freedom of expression and intellectual property in international trade agreements.
  • YouTube Issues.
  • Google Earth issues.

Google’s Q4 2012 was down 10.90 percent from the $3.76 million the company spent in Q4 2011, and down 19.86 percent from the $4.18 million it spent in Q3 2012. Yet there was still growth on a yearly basis, though not as large as Facebook’s: 70.25 percent between 2011 and 2012.

Facebook versus Google

While Facebook’s lobbying budget is growing more quickly than Google’s, the latter’s still largely outweighs the former’s. This is to be expected, given that Facebook’s business is centered on one website while Google has fingers in more pies than you can count.

In fact, that’s the really odd part here. Facebook’s lobbying budget seems to be gaining on Google’s, yet the number of issues listed by the latter is significantly bigger. In the lists above, we stripped out many of the issues for the sake of keeping things a bit more concise and to avoid listing bill upon bill upon bill; for Facebook it was just a few but for Google there was a lot more removed.

This may come down to the simple fact that Facebook’s business is simply that much more controversial than Google’s. Either way, although the two are fighting a bitter battle online, when it comes to getting politicians on their side, they have a common enemy, one which only money can buy.

See also – U.S. Internet giants, including Google, Facebook, Amazon and Yahoo, form new lobbying association and Say hello to Facebook’s DC lobbying team

Image credit: Alexander Korabelnikov