According to new allegations made by top state law enforcement officials, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook boss, and Sundar Pichai CEO, of Google, had secretly arranged a deal in 2018 to increase the digital advertising market between them.
Previously, it was reported that the deal was signed by Zuckerberg’s No. 2, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who moved over to the social network after a stint heading up Google’s online ad sales team, according to the allegations in a lawsuit by a group of state attorneys general.
But according to newly unredacted court filings, Zuckerberg and Pichai also 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, according to court papers.
The original complaint claimed that Google had reached out to Facebook after Google emerged as an online ad competitor in 2017. The two tech giants then allegedly struck “an unlawful agreement”Facebook: Give it a try “information, speed, and other advantages”In exchange for its support of the social network against its competitors, it ran the ad-auctions.
The unredacted, revised version of the lawsuit that was filed on Friday alleges that Sandberg was involved in the negotiation of the agreement before it was brought to Zuckerberg who approved it. Sandberg is alleged to have lobbying her boss to approve the agreement, calling it “a bargain”. “big deal strategically.”
“We’re nearly ready to sign and need your approval to move forward,”In an email cited in the complaint, Sandberg and her team relayed their thoughts to Zuckerberg.
Although the names of Sandberg and Zuckerberg have been redacted, their titles remain.
“Facebook CEO [REDACTED] wanted to meet with COO [REDACTED] and his other executives before making a decision,”According to the complaint.
Sandberg, who headed up Google’s ad sales team before being hired by Facebook, reportedly brokered the deal.Getty Images
The September 2018 agreement between Google, Facebook and Google bears the signatures Sandberg and a senior Vice President of Google.
“Google CEO Sundar Pichai also personally signed off on the terms of the deal,”According to the lawsuit.
In November, the states updated the original complaint. The revised version contained many redactions. New York’s federal judge ordered that all redactions be removed. He said it was in the public’s interest to reveal the information.
The lawsuit, which is now unredacted, also claims Google deceived publishers as well as advertisers for years about how it prices ad auctions and executes them. Secret algorithms created by Google that raised prices for buyers while reducing revenue for some advertisers.
According to the complaint, Google also used the extra money it received from inflating ad prices to improperly increase its monopoly. This is according to internal correspondence from Google employees. Some Google workers claimed the practices were similar to using “insider information”To grow the business according to the suit.
The allegations were made in Texas by the attorneys general and 14 other states. Puerto Rico is suing Google in federal courts for antitrust violations. The lawsuit does not include Facebook and Meta Platforms, its parent company.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against Google in December 2020. He accused it of using anticompetitive methods to dominate the digital advertising space.
The Post reached out to Alphabet’s Google and Meta Platforms for comment.
Politico was previously informed by both companies that the arrangement was not legal. A spokesperson for Google stated that the lawsuit was being filed. “full of inaccuracies.”
Both companies insist that there is nothing illegal in the agreement. SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett
A spokesperson for Google said that the company would file a motion to court next week asking for a dismissal of the lawsuit.
“Despite Attorney General Paxton’s three attempts to re-write his complaint, it is still full of inaccuracies and lacks legal merit,”Peter Schottenfels, a spokesperson for Google, 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 Platforms, Inc. released a statement to defend the agreement with Google.
“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,”Christopher Sgro, Meta spokesperson, said.
“These business relationships enable Meta to deliver more value to advertisers while fairly compensating publishers, resulting in better outcomes for all.”
Both Facebook, Google, and other regulators have come under scrutiny.
The original lawsuit, filed in December 2020, was filed at the same moment that the Department of Justice filed its antitrust complaint about Google. The DOJ claimed Google has been violating the law for years in its quest to be left. “the gateway to the internet,”It has disadvantageed its competitors in an effort sell more online search ads.
More than 200 newspapers brought suit against Facebook & Google last month. They were accused of manipulating the advertising market, and siphoning their revenue.
Regulators have filed legal challenges against Google and Facebook. They claim that Google and Facebook have become too powerful in tech by gaining unfair advantages over other companies.
Earlier this week, the Federal Trade Commission was allowed to proceed with a lawsuit against Facebook after a judge rejected the company’s request to throw out claims that it is a monopoly.
In June, New York State joined Tennessee, Utah and North Carolina to file an antitrust case against Google for its management of its mobile apps store.
Foreign governments have also set their sights on the two tech firms.
French regulators have imposed fines of $238 million on Facebook and Google for violating European privacy laws.