San Francisco, California: According to US lawsuit records, top executives at Google and Facebook were personally involved in authorizing an allegedly unlawful 2018 pact to entrench their domination of the internet advertising business.
The documents, which are part of an anti-trust case filed by a coalition of US states against Google, contain significant charges against Big Tech behemoths that have long been accused of holding monopolies.
According to the states’ allegations, the online search behemoth attempted to eliminate competition by manipulating ad auctions – the ultra-complex mechanism that chooses whose adverts show on web sites based on anonymized profiles of internet users.
Even though their identities were blacked, the legal filings filed in a New York court plainly allude to Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, as well as Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The complaint stated that “Google CEO Sundar Pichai also personally signed off on the terms of the deal,”
The economic conditions were communicated to Facebook’s CEO, who was told: “‘We’re nearly ready to sign and need your approval to move forward.'” according to the papers.
Google did not react to a request for comment on Friday, but it has categorically denied rigging the digital advertising market.
The action was revised for the third time, and it no longer included Facebook or its parent company Meta as defendants.
In response to an AFP enquiry, a spokeswoman stated, “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,”
“These business relationships enable Meta to deliver more value to advertisers while fairly compensating publishers, resulting in better outcomes for all.”
According to the complaint, Google internally referred to the deal as “Jedi Blue,” the hue being a reference to Facebook’s emblem.
The complaint claims that “No rational developer would choose to have its auctions rigged by the market’s two largest buyers,”
“So, Google and Facebook swore themselves to secrecy about the terms of their agreement.” The antitrust complaint is one of three lawsuits filed against Google on several fronts.
In October of last year, the US government filed a landmark lawsuit accusing Google of maintaining a “illegal monopoly” in internet search and advertising.
It’s the country’s biggest antitrust lawsuit in decades, and it might lead to the Silicon Valley behemoth’s demise.
According to eMarketer, while Google’s ad income has increased, its share of the burgeoning US online ad industry is ebbing due to competition from Facebook, Amazon, and others.