Facebook and Amazon were the biggest spenders on lobbying in 2020, outspending companies such as AT&T and Boeing, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.
The analysis looks into reports filed by US companies with Congress under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, a federal law that requires companies to disclose such expenditures.
Facebook, the social media giant, spent around $20 million in 2020, an 18% increase from the prior year, while Amazon spent around $18 million, up 11% from 2019, the analysis showed.
The lobbying expenditures come as Democrats take control of both houses of Congress. Some Democratic lawmakers have called for increased regulation of the internet, social media platforms, and e-commerce.
Facebook told the Journal its amenable to new legislation. "We've been clear that the internet needs updated regulations, which is why we'll continue voicing our support for new rules that address today's realities online," a spokesman said.
Amazon's Washington, D.C. team is focused on ensuring that the company is advocating for issues that matter to policymakers, employees, and customers, a company spokeswoman told the Journal.
Other companies such as Apple Inc. disclosed that it spent $6.7 million in lobbying efforts in 2020, down more than 10% from the prior year. Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company, said that it spent $7.5 million in lobbying.
Additionally, Microsoft Corp. spent $9.4 million on lobbying in 2020, Oracle Corp. spent around $8.1 million, TikTok owner ByteDance Inc. spent $2.6 million, and Twitter Inc. spent $1.5 million, according to the analysis.
The Wall Street Journal analysis says that these expenditures are only a part of the efforts exerted by Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Alphabet to build goodwill in Washington.
Google and Facebook are facing multiple antitrust lawsuits. In December, Facebook and Google agreed to help each other out if they were placed under antitrust action, according to a drafted lawsuit seen by the Wall Street Journal. The draft is a version of the antitrust lawsuit that was filed against Google by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is leading a number of states in an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, said that a breakup of the company is possible as the company's "monopoly hurts consumers and advertisers."
House Democrats also said in a report published in October that Facebook, Apple, Google, and Amazon need to be heavily regulated and potentially broken up. The October report said that all four companies are using functions that monopolize the marketplace.
The report added that these "monopolistic" functions should be regulated or potentially separated from the companies. This includes Facebook's collection of popular social media apps, Google's search engine dominance, Amazon's control of its marketplace, and Apple's authority over its iOS App Store.
Even though the Joe Biden administration hasn't outlined an explicit tech agenda that oversees the sector, Democrats in Congress are planning their own legislation on issues related to liability, antitrust, privacy, misinformation, and user-generated content, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Those plans became more urgent after the Capitol Hill riot on January 6 which led Facebook and Amazon among others to suspend political donations.