Top executives at Google and Facebook are being accused of conspiring together by approving a secret deal that benefitted Facebook in online ad auctions.
Lawyers in Texas and other states say the 2018 deal between the tech giants potentially violated antitrust laws by giving Facebook an illegal advantage in Google’s ad exchange, according to court filings obtained by Businesshala News.
The lawsuit alleges that Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg negotiated the deal with Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai with the approval of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Sandberg reportedly referred to the agreement as a “strategically big deal.”
The lawsuit reads, “The recent days of the youth of Google are a distant memory. Twenty years ago, two college students founded a company that forever changed the way people searched the Internet.” “Since then, Google has expanded its business far beyond search and abandoned its famous ‘don’t be evil’ motto. Its business practices reflect that change. As internal Google documents reveal, Google has sought to eliminate competition and has done so through an array of exclusion tactics, including an illegal settlement with Facebook, its biggest potential competitive threat, to manipulate ad auctions. Supreme Court warns that there are such things as antitrust evils. This lawsuit will establish that Google is guilty of such antitrust evils, and seeks to ensure that Google will no longer be evil.”
The recently unpublished suit also alleges that Google misled publishers and advertisers about its prices and carried out ad auctions and increased prices for some buyers while reducing revenue from some advertisers. Create secret algorithms for
In a statement to Businesshala News, Google said the lawsuit “is full of errors and lacks legal merit.”
The company also denied allegations that Pincher was involved in a secret agreement, saying, “We sign hundreds of agreements every year that don’t require CEO approval, and this one was no different.”
“Our advertising technologies help websites and apps fund their content, and enable small businesses to reach customers around the world,” Google said. “There is fierce competition in online advertising, which has low advertising technology fees, and expanded options for publishers and advertisers. We will continue to fight this useless case in court.”
Facebook, now known as Meta and not a defendant in the lawsuit, gave a statement to Businesshala News that its agreement with Google is similar to agreements with other bidding platforms.
“Meta’s non-exclusive bidding agreement with Google and our similar agreements with other bidding platforms have helped increase competition for ad placements,” the statement said. “These business relationships enable Meta to deliver more value to advertisers while giving publishers fair compensation, resulting in better outcomes for everyone.”