August 17, 2022

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A lawsuit in the US accuses Google and Meta of striking an agreement in 2018 not to compete on ads

A lawsuit in the US accuses Google and Meta of striking an agreement in 2018 not to compete on ads

Google CEO Sundar Pichai appears on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 29, 2020. afp_tickers

This content was published on Jan 15, 2022 – 00:42

(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 presented a new version of the text of the lawsuit initially filed against Google in December 2020 in a New York court on Friday.

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

The legal text released on Friday clearly mentions directors Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Philip Schindler, as well as Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, although her name is surrounded by a thick black font.

These negotiations led to an agreement between Google and Facebook in September 2018, signed by Philip Schindler, Vice President and Director of Sales and Operations for Google’s Advertising Branch, and Ms (name omitted, ndlr), COO and member of Facebook’s Board of Directors, who also previously directed advertising. to Google,” prosecutors said in favor of the plaintiff.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, also personally agreed to the terms of the deal.

An email from Sheryl Sandberg to Mark Zuckerberg, number one on Facebook, was also quoted describing the project as “strategically significant.”

According to the lawsuit, Google fears the adoption of an alternative system of large-scale ad slot allocation that would allow website publishers to avoid commissions. So the Californian group had persuaded its neighbor to make an alliance.

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

Google did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.

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

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