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Google and Meta bosses accused of having made an anti-competitive agreement

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

According to their accusations, the online search giant sought to oust all competition by manipulating advertising auctions – the ultra-sophisticated system that determines which advertisements are displayed on web pages based on an anonymized user profile.

An exchange of emails between Sandberg and Zuckerberg in question

A photo of Sheryl Sandberg wearing a black business suit talking into a microphone.

Sheryl Sandberg

Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts

The legal documents revealed on Friday clearly refer to Google bosses Sundar Pichai and Philipp Schindler, as well as Sheryl Sandberg for Facebook, even though her name is crossed out with a thick black line.

2018 on an agreement between Google and Facebook signed by Philipp Schindler, vice president and director of sales and operations of the advertising branch of Google, and Mrs. [nom barré], chief operating officer and member of the board of directors of Facebook, who herself had once headed advertising at Google”,”text”:”These negotiations led in September 2018 to an agreement between Google and Facebook signed by Philipp Schindler , vice-president and director of sales and operations of the advertising branch of Google, and Mrs. [nom barré], chief operating officer and member of the board of directors of Facebook, who herself had once led advertising at Google”}}”>These negotiations led in September 2018 to an agreement between Google and Facebook signed by Philipp Schindler, vice-president and director of sales and operations of the advertising branch of Google, and Mrs. [nom barré], chief operating officer and member of the board of directors of Facebook, who had herself once led advertising at Google, detail the state prosecutors.

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

The complaint cites an email from Sheryl Sandberg to Mark Zuckerberg, where she describes the project as strategically very important.

Mark Zuckerberg in profile speaks into the microphone during a hearing at the US Senate.

mark zuckerberg

Photo: Reuters/Erin Scott

According to the prosecution, Google feared that an alternative system for allocating advertising space would be adopted too widely, allowing publishers and publishers of sites to circumvent its commissions. The Californian group would then have convinced its neighbor to form an alliance.

An unfounded complaint, says Google

The non-exclusive agreement with Google and similar agreements we have with other auction platforms have helped increase competition for ad placements, reacted a spokesperson for Meta.

These professional relationships allow Meta to offer more value to advertisers while compensating publishers fairly: everyone wins., he continued.

Google has for its part denounced a complaint full of inaccuracies and without legal basis.

Online advertising is a fiercely competitive industry, which has lowered advertising costs and given publishers and advertisers more choice. We will continue to strongly defend ourselves against these baseless allegations in court., said a spokeswoman on Saturday.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks to a crowd in front of a screen adorned with the Google logo.

Sundar Pichai

Photo: Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

On the role played by Sundar Pichai, she clarified that Hundreds of deals every year that don’t require CEO approval are signed. It was no different in this case. And contrary to the claims of the Attorney General, this agreement was never a secret.

The two tech giants, like Apple and Amazon, are accused of abuse of dominant position by a growing number of authorities in the United States.

Google holds 28.6% of the global digital advertising market in 2021, according to the firm eMarketer, just ahead of its neighbor Facebook and its 23.7% share of the cake.

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