Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai personally approved a deal that would see the social media giant gain an advantage in the search engine’s ad auctions, according to a group of state attorneys general.
The 2018 arrangement potentially gave Facebook illegal advantages, the attorneys general from 15 states and Puerto Rico, led by Texas’s Ken Paxton (R), allege in court filings unsealed Friday.
The coalition initially filed its antitrust lawsuit alleging that Google holds a monopoly over the advertising technology market in 2020, then filed an updated complaint in November. The document released Friday is a less redacted version of the newer complaint.
It includes internal emails showing that the deal to limit header bidding practices, named Jedi Blue, was negotiated by top officials, including Zuckerberg and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. The existence of the deal had already been revealed in a previous iteration of the case.
A Google spokesperson defended the agreement in a statement to The Hill on Friday while denying that Pichai personally greenlighted it.
“We sign hundreds of agreements every year that don’t require CEO approval, and this was no different,” Peter Schottenfels of Google said. “And contrary to AG Paxton’s claims, the fact of this agreement was never a secret — it was well-publicized.”
A spokesperson for Meta, the newly formed parent company of Facebook, also defended the agreement.