Saturday 15 January 2022
Illegal collusion with Meta US states accuse Google of market manipulation
Several lawsuits by the US authorities are already directed against Google. Now a union of states accuses the company of illegal market manipulation agreements with Facebook parent Meta. Executives have influenced online advertising auctions to outperform competitors.
Several US states accuse senior executives from Google and Facebook’s parent company Meta of being directly involved in illegal collusion to gain market dominance in online advertising. The Texas-led coalition filed a revised version of its December 2020 lawsuit against Google. According to this, Google boss Sundar Pichai and his deputy Philipp Schindler as well as apparently Meta co-managing director Sheryl Sandberg were involved in the agreements. The states accuse Google of manipulating online ad auctions to eliminate any competition. The auctions are a sophisticated system that decides which advertisements appear on websites based on anonymous user profiles. Google and Facebook reached an agreement on this in September 2018, according to the prosecutors of the states involved. This was signed accordingly von Schindler and the “CEO and member of the Facebook board of directors, who herself ran the advertising department at Google for a time”. This Facebook representative’s name has been redacted. However, the information shows that it must be Sandberg. The lawsuit also quotes an email to Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, which apparently came from Sandberg. It describes the agreement with Google as “strategically very important”. It continues: “We are close to signing and need approval to proceed.” The lawsuit also states that the deal was also “personally approved” by Pichai, who runs Google and its parent company Alphabet.
Meta and Google reject allegations
Google initially did not respond to requests for comment. The Internet giant has repeatedly rejected allegations of market manipulation. Meta spoke of a “non-exclusive bidding agreement with Google”. Meta has also made similar agreements with other platforms, thereby increasing competition in the placement of advertising. Two other lawsuits by the US authorities are directed against Google. In one of them, the US government accuses the company of an “illegal monopoly” in online search and online advertising. The lawsuit filed in October could lead to a split of the Internet giant. According to the market research company eMarketer, Google had a 28.6 percent share of the global online advertising market last year. It was followed by Facebook with a market share of 23.7 percent.
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