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Google, Facebook Leaders Accused of Colluding on Online Ad Sales, Antitrust Lawsuit Says

Documents appear to show both CEOs signed off on the agreement

A state antitrust lawsuit filed last year is accusing Google of colluding with Facebook in online advertising sales, according to multiple outlets, including The Associated Press.

Documents from the lawsuit originally filed last December seem to show that the CEOs of both tech giants signed off on an ad bidding agreement. According to the documents, Google referred to the deal secretly as “Jedi Blue” and was approved by the search giant’s CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook renamed itself to Meta last October.

The complaint said that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg believed this to be a “big deal strategically” in a 2018 email that included Zuckerberg. The documents redacted the exec’s names, but their titles were shown.

A Google spokesperson told the AP the lawsuit is “full of inaccuracies and lacks legal merit,” while a Facebook rep said the company’s ad bidding agreement with Google increases competition for ad placements. The Google rep also said the lawsuit’s allegation that Pichai approved the deal is not accurate and that the agreement “was never a secret.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading the lawsuit and is joined by the attorneys general of Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah.