By Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch
MarketWatch photo illustration/iStockphoto
Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. spent record amounts on lobbying in 2019, with Mark Zuckerberg’s social-media company leading the so-called FAANG companies in outlays aimed at influencing Washington, according to disclosures filed late Tuesday.
Facebook /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB -4.32% shelled out $16.7 million last year, well above its 2018 total of $12.6 million, its disclosures show. Amazon /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -2.16% has reported spending $16.1 million in 2019 vs. $14.4 million a year ago, and Apple said it put forth $7.4 million, topping its 2018 outlay of $6.7 million and its 2017 total of $7.2 million.
The other two FAANG companies — Netflix Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite NFLX -3.04% and Alphabet Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG -4.92% /zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite GOOGL -5.15% Google business — didn’t set records with their 2019 lobbying spending. Netflix disclosed shelling out $850,000 last year, up from $800,000 in 2018 but below its 2015 total of $1.3 million. Google spent $11.8 million last year, down sharply from its 2018 total of $21.7 million as the search heavyweight reorganized its lobbying effort.
The spending — which already was on a record pace for some companies after last year’s third quarter — has come as Big Tech increasingly finds itself in lawmakers and regulators’ cross hairs.
A raft of bills aimed at technology companies were introduced in Congress in 2019, addressing privacy, censorship, security, algorithms, children’s issues, facial recognition and other matters. But Capital Alpha Partners analysts have said the “existence of so many disparate critiques complicates making progress on any one issue.”
In addition, the Trump administration’s Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission have launched antitrust investigations into Big Tech.
An Amazon spokeswoman on Wednesday said the e-commerce titan is “always looking for ways to innovate” for customers, and its Washington, D.C., team is “focused on ensuring we are advocating on issues that are important to our customers, our employees and policy makers.” Facebook and Netflix declined to comment, while Apple and Google didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Facebook’s stock has climbed 53% in the past 12 months, Amazon has advanced 15%, and Apple is up 106%. Netflix has tacked on 1%, while Alphabet’s shares are higher by 37%. The broad S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -4.41% has added 26%.
This is an updated version of a story first published on Jan. 22, 2020.