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Former chief executive officer and co-founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, resigned Nov. 29 and announced that Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s chief technology officer, will become the company’s leading executive as social media companies face increased scrutiny over data privacy and misinformation.
Agrawal, who started working at Twitter as a software engineer in 2011, will receive a $1 million annual salary as the new Twitter CEO, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents. Dorsey reportedly has a net worth of over $12 billion.
In the last few years, social media companies like Twitter have come under scrutiny for the prevalence of misinformation and the spread of election interference campaigns.
Now, Twitter seems on track to surpass last year’s federal lobbying spending. Through the third quarter of 2021, Twitter spent $1.4 million on federal lobbying. In 2020, Twitter’s federal lobbying efforts in the same time period amounted to nearly $1.2 million.
Recently, Facebook, which changed its name company’s name to Meta in October, faced controversy after internal documents leaked showing the company knew its social platform Instagram could harm the mental health of adolescents.
WSJ Investigation: Facebook has known for more than a year-and-a-half that Instagram is harmful to teen girls’ body image, sparking comparisons between Big Tobacco + Facebook’s policy of pursuing profits regardless of documented harm.#TheDefender https://t.co/Pl2MSWvRG0
— Children’s Health Defense (@ChildrensHD) September 20, 2021
Additionally, the documents showed Facebook executives were aware its platforms inadequately prevented misinformation and conspiracy theories from spreading in the lead up to the Jan. 6 capitol insurrection.
Like Twitter, Meta has dramatically increased its lobbying efforts in recent years. In 2015, it spent close to $9.9 million on federal lobbying. In 2020, the company increased that total to nearly $19.7 million. Meta also ranked in the top 10 lobbying spenders at the federal level that same year.
Dorsey, along with his counterparts at Meta and Alphabet Inc., which owns Google, was called before Congress in March to testify about the companies’ responsibility for Jan. 6. During the hearing, Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) pointed out that Dorsey tweeted out a poll seemingly mocking representatives’ “yes or no” questions of him during the event.
However, Dorsey did say “yes” to the question of whether Twitter had contributed to factors that caused the insurrection.
“Yes,” Dorsey said. “But you also have to take into consideration the broader ecosystem. It’s not just about the technological systems that we use.”
There are bipartisan efforts underway in Congress to regulate big tech in the wake of recent scrutiny, such as a bill introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and co-sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
The bill aims to increase competition to platforms like Twitter and Facebook by “establishing common-sense rules of the road for dominant digital platforms to prevent them from abusing their market power to harm competition, online businesses, and consumers.”
Unlike Twitter and Meta, Alphabet has decreased its federal lobbying efforts in recent years. In 2015, Alphabet spent close to $16.7 million on federal lobbying. In 2020, Alphabet spent close to $8.9 million on federal lobbying, nearly half of what it spent five years before.
Originally published by Open Secrets.