Last year, Facebook's lobbying budget passed the $1 million milestone, according to last quarter's report filed with the U.S. government on Friday. The 11-page document (PDF) reveals Facebook spent $440,000 on lobbying in Q4 2011, which is the most the company has ever spent in a single reporting period. Menlo Park's Q4 2011 was up 22 percent from the $360,000 spent in Q3 3011 and up 238 percent from the $130,000 spent in Q4 2010.
While the official 2011 lobbying figures will be reported later this month, you can add up the numbers for the four quarters this year yourself, like AllFacebook did, and you'll find the company's budget last year was $230,000 + $320,000 + $360,000 + $440,000 = $1.35 million. "This increase represents a continuation of our efforts to explain how our service works as well as the important actions we take to protect people who use our service and promote the value of innovation to our economy," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
Facebook's Q4 2011 report lists the following specific lobbying issues:
- International regulation of software companies and restrictions on Internet access by foreign governments.
- Federal policy on online security measures for private industry, data storage, and online safety to ensure the safety of Internet users; modernization of Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2011 (S. 1011); mobile Internet access issues; implementation of Children's Online Privacy Protection Act; Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011 (S. 799); Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2011 (S. 1151); Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2011 (S. 913); Location Privacy Protection Act of 2011 (S. 1223); Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011 (H.R. 1895); Consumer Privacy Protection Act of 2011 (H.R. 1528); Video Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 2471); Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2011 (S. 1207); Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2011 (S. 1151); Data Breach Notification Act of 2011 (S. 1408); SAFE Data Act (H.R. 2577); Measuring and Evaluating Trends for Reliability, Integrity, and Continued Success (METRICS) Act of 2011 (S. 1464); Data Accountability and Trust Act (DATA) of 2011 (H.R. 1841); Data Accountability and Trust Act (H.R. 1707); Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (H.R. 3523); Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011 (S. 799).
- Education regarding Internet media information security policy and Internet privacy issues; federal privacy legislation; freedom of expression on the Internet; discussion of location-based services; education regarding Facebook's tagsuggest feature; overview of FTC agreement and Irish Data Protection Commission announcement.
- Discussions regarding patent reform legislation to encourage innovation and foster the American economy and competitiveness; America Invents Act (S. 23, H.R. 1249); Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (S. 968); A bill to amend the criminal penalty provision for criminal infringement of a copyright, and for other purposes (S. 978); Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261); Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (S. 2029, H.R. 3782).
- Discussions regarding House, Senate, and Government rules to allow more Government and Congressional offices to access social media and to use social media to engage with citizens.
- Discussions regarding power and water needs to support high-tech growth and investment in Oregon.
- Education regarding online advertising.
- Discussions regarding impact of visa administration on technology companies.
It's no wonder Facebook is working so hard to friend Washington, D.C.; Menlo Park has quite a list of items it wants help with.
While Facebook is clearly spending more and more on lobbying, it's not the only firm doing so. In fact, the increased outreach to policymakers is a trend: most companies saw a marked increase in their lobbying budgets from Q4 2010 to Q4 2011, and technology giants were no exception.
There are many reasons why Facebook's lobbying is increasing. Here are a few, listed from general to specific: the improving U.S. economy, the upcoming 2012 presidential election, more and more Internet-related bills making their way through Congress, and finally Facebook's upcoming IPO, which overall means more intense scrutiny from everyone who wants to see the social networking giant fail. Working with the government is one of many ways Facebook is working to protect its interests, and in some cases, the interests of its users.
- Facebook not part of SOPA blackout, but users still protest
- Facebook partners with US government to reduce unemployment
- Facebook forms a political action committee
- Facebook will be at Data Privacy Day 2012
- Facebook analyzes users' political posts for Politico
- Facebook's top political articles for 2011