Google, Facebook - and now Twitter - go to Washington

Tech companies spend millions each year lobbying for (and against) issues that can affect their business; how much do they spend and what issues do they spend it on?

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ITworld/Phil Johnson

Now that Thanksgiving is over (burp), down in Washington, D.C. members of the lame-duck 112th Congress are returning to work and, of course, in January a shiny, new 113th Congress will take over. Members of both Congresses will be greeted by an army of lobbyists from all sorts of industries, advocating for their own interests which is, for better or worse, how things work down there. One industry that's well represented is the business of computers and the Internet.

As the chart above shows, when it comes to spending money on lobbying the government on issues close to their hearts, many of the big online players that we know and love (or love to hate) are well represented. These data are from the Center for Representative Politics and they represent the amount spent by each company on lobbying for computer/Internet-related issues in 2012. The top eleven spenders in this industry are shown, led (significantly) by Google, which has spent more than $13 million lobbying this year. I also included other well-known players such as eBay, Zynga and Red Hat for comparison purposes. Overall in 2012, the industry spent $96.4 million on lobbying.

You may note that one significant name is missing from this list: Twitter. Despite having over 500 million users (some of the way-too-famous variety) the little blue bird does not officially employ any government lobbyists. At least, not yet.

Twitter, however, has recently hired two policy experts to run a small Washington office, to monitor legislation or regulations that could be of interest to them. While neither of Twitter’s men in Washington has officially registered as a lobbyist, they could do so down the line.

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