Now, the tech industry is fighting back, with tech trade groups launching a counteroffensive by flooding Facebook with ads opposing the bills, a dramatic contrast to their ad spending on the platform in previous years.
The advertising has surged in recent months, with tech industry trade organization NetChoice spending more than $1 million on Facebook ads since October — a more than fifteen-fold increase from its Facebook ad spending in the previous two-and-a-half years. All told, NetChoice’s antitrust ads have been shown at least 24 million times on Facebook since April 2021. The group’s members include Amazon, Facebook and Google. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
The ad campaign has catapulted NetChoice to be one of the country’s 20 biggest spenders on Facebook political ads since October. The group spent more on Facebook ads in the past three months than the committee to reelect former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, who lost a high-profile race in November, and former president Donald Trump’s Save America Joint Fundraising Committee.
NetChoice says the increased spending has a simple purpose: it is trying to educate Americans about the dangers of the regulations. “While the techlash is a beast of the Beltway, its resulting impact will be felt nationwide,” said NetChoice spokesman Rob Winterton. “Our campaign aims to educate them about that and what they can do about it.”
NetChoice’s ads over the last 90 days have notably focused outside the Beltway. Ads in Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania amount to more than $600,000, around half of the group’s total Facebook ad spending in that time period.
NetChoice isn’t the only group to launch such an ad campaign, though the group’s campaign is the most expensive one currently targeting antitrust legislation on Facebook. Other groups that count major technology companies as partners, contributors or members have run a flurry of ads objecting to the bills: