One amended variant of a suit filed in December 2020 by multiple states accused the CEOs of FB and Google of being participants in an illegal agreement to corner the digital advertising market.
The suit states that Google and Facebook acted to throttle competition.
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The lawsuit stated that the tech giants wanted to decrease prices paid to publishers, cut out rivals and manipulate ad auctions, shared CNBC.
“Google understood the severity of the threat to its position if Facebook were to enter the market and support header bidding,” the complaint reads, according to MarketWatch. “To diffuse this threat, Google made overtures to Facebook.”
The first complaint was public, and the outlines of the allegations were complete, but the next of the lawsuit was heavily redacted.
The next version was less so upon a judge’s ruling, allowing America’s population to see that the coalition of states led by TX Attorney General Ken Paxton targets top tech officials in the case against the tech giants. Existing redactions blackout names.
CNBC saw that FB Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg called the deal ‘’a big deal strategically’’ in an email that included Zuckerberg, but his name was redacted.
The New York Post reported that Zuckerberg and Pichai “signed off on the backroom deal in 2018, which allegedly guaranteed Meta subsidiary Facebook would both bid in — and win — a fixed percentage of ad auctions.”
“Facebook CEO [REDACTED] wanted to meet with COO [REDACTED] and his other executives before making a decision,” stated the complaint.
“We’re nearly ready to sign and need your approval to move forward,” Sandberg wrote Zuckerberg.
“Google CEO Sundar Pichai also personally signed off on the terms of the deal,” the lawsuit said, according to the Post.
“Despite Attorney General Paxton’s three attempts to re-write his complaint, it is still full of inaccuracies and lacks legal merit,” Google spokesperson Peter Schottenfels said.
“Our advertising technologies help websites and apps fund their content and enable small businesses to reach customers around the world. There is vigorous competition in online advertising, which has reduced ad tech fees, and expanded options for publishers and advertisers.”
“Meta’s non-exclusive bidding agreement with Google and the similar agreements we have with other bidding platforms have helped to increase competition for ad placements,” Meta spokesperson stated.
“These business relationships enable Meta to deliver more value to advertisers while fairly compensating publishers, resulting in better outcomes for all,” he said.
The lawsuit was led by Texas and has been joined by the AG of Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah.