Google accused of advertising collusion with Facebook

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The two largest players in the online advertising market, Google and Facebook, have struck a series of deals to illegally consolidate their market power. This is stated in a lawsuit filed by the authorities of Texas and nine other US states, according to Reuters.

Google and Facebook currently control over half of the global advertising market.

According to the lawsuit, in 2018, the two players negotiated a public deal that gave Facebook advertisers the ability to advertise on Google's publisher network. The deal was signed by senior executives of the companies.

Google has also entered into similar partnerships with other advertising companies in an effort to maintain market share. This initiative was internally codenamed Project Jedi.

But what Google hasn't publicly announced is that it has given Facebook certain benefits, the lawsuit alleges. It says Facebook has agreed to drop support for competing software that publishers have developed to undermine Google's bargaining power.

In exchange, Facebook received various benefits, including access to Google data and exemptions in the rules that allowed its customers to unfairly place more ads than customers of other Google partners could.

The lawsuit also alleges that Google and Facebook were involved in setting advertising prices and continued to collaborate, although this section has been heavily edited and it remains unclear how and when the companies allegedly used their "market allocation agreement."

However, the lawsuit states that “given the scale and extensive nature of the collaboration between the two companies, Google and Facebook were well aware that their agreement could violate antitrust laws. The two companies discussed, negotiated and documented how they would cooperate with each other. ”

At the same time, there are no accusations in the lawsuit against Facebook, they are only brought against Google.

The US Department of Justice is also investigating an agreement between the companies as part of an antitrust investigation against Google, six people familiar with the investigation said. But the agency has not yet filed any charges related to the 2018 deal.

Google reaction
Google spokesman Peter Schottenfels called allegations of the state authorities in the ongoing partnership inaccurate and said that Facebook does not receive any special data.

Facebook reaction
The Facebook press service declined to comment.