A lawsuit in the US accuses Google and Meta of establishing an agreement in 2018 not to compete for advertising

A lawsuit in the US accuses Google and Meta of establishing an agreement in 2018 not to compete for advertising
A lawsuit in the US accuses Google and Meta of establishing an agreement in 2018 not to compete for advertising

First modification: 15/01/2022 – 10:10

San Francisco (AFP) – High-level executives from Google and Meta (Facebook’s parent company) were directly involved in an illegal agreement in 2018 to establish their dominance of digital advertising, according to accusations made by US states.

A coalition of states led by Texas filed a new version of the text of the lawsuit initially launched against Google in December 2020 in a New York court on Friday.

According to the accusations, the online search giant sought to drive out the competition by manipulating advertising sales by auction, the advanced system that determines which ads are shown on web pages based on the anonymous profile of each Internet user.

The legal text released on Friday makes clear reference to directors Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Philipp Schindler, as well as Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, even though her name is crossed out with a thick black line.

“These negotiations led to an agreement between Google and Facebook in September 2018, signed by Philipp Schindler, Vice President and Director of Sales and Operations of the advertising branch of Google, and Mrs (name crossed out, ndlr), Director of Operations and member of the board of directors of Facebook, and who also previously directed advertising at Google,” according to prosecutors for the plaintiff states.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai also personally approved the terms of the deal.

An email from Sheryl Sandberg to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s number one, is also quoted, describing the project as “very strategically important.”

According to the lawsuit, Google feared that an alternative ad slot allocation system would be widely adopted allowing website publishers to avoid commissions. So the Californian group would then have convinced its neighbor to make an alliance.

“The non-exclusive agreement with Google and similar agreements with other auction platforms helped to strengthen competition for ad space,” a Meta spokesperson said.

Google did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.

The two tech giants, as well as Amazon and Apple, are accused of abusing their position of market dominance by a growing number of authorities in the United States.

© 2022 AFP

TAG: lawsuit accuses Google Meta establishing agreement compete advertising

 
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