Google and Facebook CEOs Collided on Online Ad Sales, Claims Lawsuit

Deepak Gupta January 15, 2022
Updated 2022/01/15 at 4:56 AM

Recently unedited documents in a state-led antitrust lawsuit against Google accuse the search giant of conspiring with rival Facebook to manipulate online advertising sales. The CEOs of both companies were aware of the agreement and signed it, the lawsuit alleges.

The original, redacted lawsuit, filed in December 2021, accused Google of “anti-competitive conduct” and of teaming up with the social media giant. But the unedited version offers details on the involvement of Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in approving the deal. Since then, Facebook has changed its name to Meta.

According to the lawsuit, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was “explicit that ‘this is a big deal strategically'” in a 2018 email about the deal that included Facebook’s CEO. the suit, your titles are visible.

When the two sides agreed on the terms of the deal, “the team sent an email addressed directly to CEO” Zuckerberg, the lawsuit states.

“We are almost ready to sign and need your approval to move forward,” the email read, according to the complaint. Zuckerberg wanted to meet with Sandberg and his other executives before making a decision, the complaint states.

In a statement, Google spokesman Peter Schottenfels said the lawsuit is “full of inaccuracies and lacks legal merit.”

In September 2018, the complaint says, the two companies signed the agreement. Sandberg, who was once head of Google’s ad business, and Pichai personally signed the agreement, according to the states’ complaint.

Meta spokesman Chris Sgro said on Friday that the company’s bidding agreement with Google and similar agreements it has with other bidding platforms “helped increase competition for ad placements.”

“These business relationships allow Meta to deliver more value to advertisers while fairly compensating publishers, resulting in better results for everyone,” said Sgro.

Internally, Google used the code phrase “Jedi Blue” to refer to the 2018 settlement, according to the lawsuit. Google kept this code phrase a secret.

Google’s Schottenfels said the lawsuit’s claim that Pichai approved the Facebook deal “is not accurate.”

“We sign hundreds of deals every year that don’t require CEO approval, and this was no different,” he said, adding that the deal “has never been a secret.”

The lawsuit is led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and was joined by Attorneys General of Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Puerto Rico. , South Carolina, Dakota and Utah.


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