WASHINGTON, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Chief executives of Alphabet
Inc's Google and Facebook were aware of a deal
to carve up part of the online advertising market, according to
an amended antitrust complaint filed by Texas and 15 other
states against Google.
The deal with Facebook, which Google dubbed "Jedi Blue," was
"signed off" by Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai while
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was on an email thread discussing
it, they said in their third amended complaint.
Google said the complaint's assertion "isn't accurate," and
that the complaint itself is "full of inaccuracies."
"We intend to file a motion to dismiss next week," a Google
Facebook, which has since become Meta Platforms Inc, said in
a statement that the deal was not exclusive to Google, and that
other agreements have increased competition for ad placements.
It said it was better for advertisers "while fairly compensating
Facebook has not been named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
The deal was allegedly struck as part of Google's effort to
counter header bidding, which publishers wanted to use to make
more money from advertising placed on their websites, the filing
"Google quickly realized that this innovation substantially
threatened its exchanges ability to demand a very large 19 to
22 percent cut on all advertising transactions," the filing
Its efforts to kill header bidding included striking a deal
with Facebook, which had supported header bidding, the filing
"Ultimately, Google and Facebook struck a deal executed at
the highest levels," the complaint said. "Following the
agreement, Facebook curtailed its involvement with header
bidding in return for Google giving Facebook information, speed,
and other advantages."
As part of the agreement, the two online platforms agreed on
how often Facebook would win the publishers' auctions, the
Google had other tactics also, such as using at least three
programs to manipulate ad auctions to coerce advertisers and
publishers into using Google's tools, the filing said.
The Texas lawsuit, which was joined by other states, was
filed in 2020 and alleges that Google used coercive tactics and
broke antitrust law in its efforts to boost its already dominant
The document filed on Friday is a less redacted version of a
second amended complaint, which was originally filed in October
The lawsuit was one of several that arose from
investigations by the federal government and groups of states
into online platforms.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz, Elizabeth Culliford and David
Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis)