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Social media companies testifying before Congress tomorrow combined to spend $30 million on lobbying last year — and employed one lobbyist for roughly every four members of Congress

Media Contact

Cory Combs

Director of Media Relations

As social media executives prepare to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday about how their companies are failing to protect children on their platforms, federal lobbying filings show the top social media platforms have assembled an army of lobbyists as Congress tries to rein in their addictive products that put profits before safety.

Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram), ByteDance (the parent company of TikTok), X (the company formerly known as Twitter), Snap (the parent company of Snapchat), and Discord (a popular social media app for gamers) combined to spend a staggering $30 million on lobbying in 2023, according to an Issue One review of OpenSecrets data and recently filed lobbying records — an increase of 12% more than what these five companies collectively spent on lobbying in 2022.

These five companies combined to employ 142 individual lobbyists last year — or about one for every four members of Congress. Moreover, ByteDance, Discord, and Snap each spent record sums in 2023.

“For far too long, unchecked social media companies have been harming our kids, weakening American democracy, and undermining U.S. national security,” said Alix Fraser, director of Issue One’s Council for Responsible Social Media. “Too often, Big Tech tries to drown out the voices of parents, young people, and concerned citizens through its immense influence operations and armies of lobbyists. We cannot wait any longer to protect our children, our communities, and our republic. It’s time for Congress to adopt commonsense, bipartisan solutions that factor in more than the profits of a handful of companies.”

Meta, which first hired federal lobbyists in 2009, alone spent $19.3 million and employed 71 lobbyists — about one for every eight members of Congress. This includes Meta’s in-house lobbyists as well as hired guns at 24 lobbying firms.

Meanwhile, ByteDance, which first hired federal lobbyists in 2019, spent a record $8.7 million on lobbying, and employed 45 lobbyists — about one for every 12 members of Congress.

Furthermore, Snap, which first hired federal lobbyists in 2014, spent a record $860,000 on lobbying in 2023, and employed 11 lobbyists. X, which first hired federal lobbyists in 2013, spent $850,000 on lobbying in 2023 and employed eight lobbyists. And Discord, which first hired federal lobbyists in 2022, spent a record $240,000 on lobbying in 2023, and employed seven lobbyists.

This lobbying spree comes as Congress is considering new guardrails for social media platforms to increase transparency and promote safe technology practices to protect children, including the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), the Platform Accountability and Transparency Act (PATA), and the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA 2.0) — all of which have bipartisan support.

In December, Issue One and the Council for Responsible Social Media detailed how social media companies remain largely free of any liability from the harm they cause in an indispensable report entitled “Dangerous by Design,” which also outlined several core principles that should guide federal solutions to avert the crisis we face.

Read our full report: “Social Media Platforms Assemble Influence Army in D.C.”