Google, Facebook now buying even more favors in Washington

google facebook now buying even more favors in washington maps money feature large

This is what American democracy looks like: Google spent $16.48 million on lobbying efforts in 2012, an increase of 70 percent over the $9.68 million it spent in 2011. And Facebook’s lobbying dollars rose even more: from $1.36 million in 2011 to nearly $4 million in 2012 – an increase of 196 percent.

These numbers come directly from the U.S. House of Representatives’ Lobbying Disclosure database, and were compiled by citizen advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, which sees the increase in lobbying dollars from Internet companies as a sad continuation of corporations influencing lawmakers.

“Google and Facebook would have you believe that they are different from other corporations,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director, in a statement. “They are not. They are following the corrupt corporate tradition in Washington: buying what you want.”

The boost in lobbying dollars from Google and Facebook in 2012 came as the U.S. government increased its scrutiny of Internet-related issues. Google recently skirted serious action from the Federal Trade Commission, which was investigating the search giant for antitrust violations. And Facebook avoided fines from the FTC in exchange for agreeing to strict rules regarding user privacy.

Facebook, which boosted its lobbying spending to $1.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, pushed for a number of issues, including the government handling of “Do Not Track” technology, reforms to the Children’s Online Privacy Act, immigration reform for high-skilled workers, and opposition to a United Nations treaty that the company believed would inhibit Internet access in international regions – all signs that the company wants to make its presence known in D.C.

“Our presence and growth in Washington reflect our commitment to explaining how our service works, the actions we take to protect the billion plus people who use our service, the importance of preserving an open Internet, and the value of innovation to our economy,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill.

While Google and Facebook have the most notable increases in lobbying spending, they aren’t alone. Microsoft upped its spending by 10.2 percent, to $7.34 million. And Amazon spending jumped from $2.22 million to $2.5 million, a 12.6 percent increase.

Verizon, AT&T, and Apple all decreased money spent on lobbying in 2012.

Product Review

LG's new V40 has 5 cameras, but ThinQ twice before you buy

The LG V40 ThinQ has five cameras -- three on the back and two on the front. This makes it one of the most versatile camera phones LG has released to date, and it’s creatively fun to use. Read on for more in-depth analysis.

These are the best Xbox One games out right now

More than four years into its lifespan, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.

Goodbye, Essential? Android creator’s startup cuts nearly a third of its staff

Essential has cut as much as 30 percent of its workforce, suggesting that it may be in more trouble than previously thought. The news comes a few months after the company reportedly canceled a follow-up to the Essential Phone.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Social Media

3D Facebook photos jump out of the newsfeed, no glasses needed

You're not seeing things -- that photo in your Facebook newsfeed is 3D. Launching today, 3D Facebook Photos use the depth maps from dual-lens smartphones to add dimension to an image as you move your phone.
Social Media

Instagram is testing a new way for you to look through your feed

Instagram is constantly tweaking its app to help give its users the best experience possible, so how do you like the sound of tapping — instead of swiping — to look through your feed?

Was your Facebook account hacked in the latest breach? Here’s how to find out

Facebook now reports that its latest data breach affected only 30 million users, down from an initial estimate of 50 million accounts. You can also find out if hackers had accessed your account by visiting a dedicated portal.

Hinge's new feature wants to know who you've gone out on dates with

With its new "We Met" feature, Hinge wants to learn how your dates are going with matches in its app. That way, it can inject the information into its algorithm to provide future recommendations that better suit its users' preferences.
Social Media

Like a pocketable personal stylist, Pinterest overhauls shopping tools

Pinterest shopping just got a bit better with a trio of updates now rolling out to Pinterest. The first replaces Buyable Pins with Product Pins for more features, including knowing whether or not a product is in stock.
Smart Home

Facebook’s new Portal device can collect your data to target your ads

Facebook confirmed that its new Portal smart displays, designed to enable Messenger-enabled video calls, technically have the capability to gather data on users via the camera and mic onboard.
Social Media

YouTube is back after crashing for users around the world

It's rare to see YouTube suffer serious issues, but the site went down around the world for a period of time on October 16. It's back now, and we can confirm it's loading normally on desktop and mobile.
Social Media

Twitter has sorted out those weird notifications it was sending

Twitter started churning out weird notifications of seemingly nonsensical letters and numbers to many of its users on Tuesday morning. The bizarre incident even prompted Twitter boss Jack Dorsey to get involved.

Adobe MAX 2018: What it is, why it matters, and what to expect

Each year, Adobe uses its Adobe MAX conference to show off its latest apps, technologies, and tools to help simplify and improve the workflow of creatives the world over. Here's what you should expect from this year's conference.
Home Theater

Facebook might be planning a streaming box for your TV that watches you back

Facebook is reportedly working on a piece of streaming media hardware for your living room with a built-in camera for video calls, something people may not want given the company's recent controversies.