Silicon Valley-based Facebook is deepening its ties to D.C., and not only by hosting President Obama for an interview at its headquarters: Facebook spent over five times more on lobbying that it did in the same period last year.
According to mandatory disclosures, Facebook’s lobbying expenditures totaled $230,000 in the first quarter of the year, up from $130,000 in the preceding quarter . The total also marks a more than five-fold increase from the $41,390 spent in the first quarter of 2010.
The total sum still pales by comparison with the lobbying expenses of companies like Google, which spent $1,120,000 in the first quarter of 2011.
Still, the increasing lobbying expenses offer clear signs that as Facebook is not only focused on growing its profits and membership, but also its presence on the Hill. Facebook has also greatly expanded its team of lobbyists: “In the past six months, Facebook has hired two outside lobbying firms and four new Washington staff members, bringing its staff head count to 10 at its D.C. office,” the Wall Street Journal recently reported.
Facebook is now concerned with a far greater range of issues than it has been in the past. Whereas just four lobbying issues were listed in Facebook’s fourth quarter report, its latest disclosure details seven areas that occupied Facebook's lobbyists. These issues include not only cyber security, privacy, and international regulation, but also net neutrality, patent reform, natural resources in Oregon (home to Facebook’s new data center), and the restrictions foreign governments place on Internet access.
The social network is also angling to get more politicians online--it notes in its disclosure form it has been advocating for rules to “allow more Government and Congressional offices to access social media to engage with citizens.”