Google outspent any other company in lobbying for the first time

Search engine giant spent more than $18 million in 2017 to influence Washington

The Googleplex Google HQ by Trey Ratcliff on Flickr

Google has outspent any other company in the tech sector in lobbying for the first time, as Facebook, Amazon and Apple all set records for the year, federal disclosures have revealed.

The search engine giant spent more than $18 million in total last year, and also beat out all other companies during the fourth quarter, spending more than $4.6 million.

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Social networking site Facebook spent more than $11.5 million over the year, and retail giant Amazon spent nearly $13 million during the year, including more than $3.3 million in the fourth quarter. However, it's perhaps no surprise that the firm has injected so much into lobbying, as it has faced some different pressures than other platform companies, with Trump giving it a hard time because its founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, also owns the Washington Post.

The firms' endeavour for resilient lobbying came as both tech and telecom sectors faced tough scrutiny in Washington. Lawmakers scrutinised the companies over questions including Russia's use of their platforms to try to influence the 2016 election, and a variety of industries looked to take advantage of a tax overhaul and regulatory rollback in President Donald Trump's first year in office.

During 2017, Google and social media giants Facebook and Twitter, also acknowledged that millions of their users were exposed to ads, fake news reports and fraudulent social media posts from Russian operatives. The three companies testified before Congress in October regarding Russian activities on their platforms and have since pledged to improve their content inspection techniques before the 2018 midterm elections.

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On Monday, it was revealed that almost a quarter of a million Twitter users were duped into following more than 50,000 Russian bots that tried to influence the result of the 2016 US presidential election, the social network has revealed.

After an investigation into whether its platform had been used by the Kremlin to manipulate the outcome of the election, which saw Donald Trump become president, the micro-blogging site said on Friday that 677,775 users believed, retweeted and quoted fake profiles, which thus reached a much wider audience.

"As previously announced, we identified and suspended a number of accounts that were potentially connected to a propaganda effort by a Russian government-linked organisation known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA)," Twitter said at the time.

"Consistent with our commitment to transparency, we are emailing notifications to 677,775 people in the United States who followed one of these accounts or retweeted or liked a tweet from these accounts during the election period."

Twitter posted examples of the tweets from the Russian-controlled accounts, revealing that 3,814 of them linked to the Internet Research Agency and posted more than 170,000 tweets, 8.4% of which were apparently election-related.

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