Friday, January 14, 2022

Facebook and Google accused of ‘secret deal’ to carve up ad empire

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and his counterpart at Google, CEO Sundar Pichai, secretly struck a deal in 2018 to carve up the digital advertising market between the two tech giants, according to newly revealed allegations from top state law-enforcement officials.

Previously, it was reported that the deal was signed by Zuckerberg’s No. 2, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who moved over to the social network after a stint heading up Google’s online ad sales team, according to the allegations in a lawsuit by a group of state attorneys general.

But according to newly unredacted court filings, Zuckerberg and Pichai also signed off on the backroom deal in 2018, which allegedly guaranteed Meta subsidiary Facebook would both bid in — and win — a fixed percentage of ad auctions, according to court papers.

The original complaint had alleged that Google reached out Facebook after the social media company emerged as a powerful online ad rival in 2017. The two tech behemoths then allegedly struck “an unlawful agreement” to give Facebook “information, speed, and other advantages” in the ad auctions it ran in exchange for the social network backing down from its competitive threats.

The newly revised, unredacted version of the lawsuit, which was refiled on Friday, also specifically alleges that Sandberg helped negotiate the agreement before bringing it to Zuckerberg, who approved the deal. Sandberg is said to have lobbied her boss to okay the agreement, calling it a “big deal strategically.”


It's called leaning in, baby.

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It's so much easier to prove an antitrust case based on collusiion (per se rules) than monopoiization. As a bonus, evidence of improper collusion can reinforce monopolization claims.

Posted by: Greg | Jan 14, 2022 2:11:19 PM

Jail 'em all.

An aside: we used to have a Monopolies Commission. People complained that there was only one.

Posted by: dearieme | Jan 14, 2022 2:35:38 PM

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