Sundar Pichai & Mark Zuckerberg Colluded To Manipulate Online Ad Sales, New Lawsuit Claims

Sundar Pichai & Mark Zuckerberg Colluded To Manipulate Online Ad Sales, New Lawsuit Claims

Sundar Pichai Mark Zuckerberg Google Facebook

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has been accused of colluding with Meta (formerly Facebook) chief Mark Zuckerberg in a bid to manipulate online advertising sales in a new lawsuit. Citing an amended complaint filed by Texas and 15 other states, AP reported that Pichai and Zuckerberg teamed up and hammered out the terms of the agreement. The filing stated that 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.

“Following the agreement, Facebook curtailed its involvement with header bidding in return for Google giving Facebook information, speed, and other advantages,” the filing added.

According to the lawsuit, Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, was “explicit that this is a big deal strategically” in a 2018 email thread about the deal that included Facebook’s CEO. When the two companies hammered out the terms of the agreement, the team sent an email addressed directly to Zuckerberg. The complaint said that the social media firm was ready to sign and just needed Zuckerberg’s approval to move forward.

Agreement ‘was never a secret’: Google spokesperson

However, reacting to the lawsuit, Facebook, which has since become Meta Platforms Inc, said that the deal was not exclusive to Google and that other agreements have increased competition for ad placements. It stated that it was better for advertisers “while fairly compensating publishers”.

“These business relationships enable Meta to deliver more value to advertisers while fairly compensating publishers, resulting in better outcomes for all,” Meta spokesperson Chris Sgro said.

Google, on the other hand, said that the lawsuit is “full of inaccuracies and lacks legal merit”. In a statement, Google spokesperson Peter Schottenfels said that the lawsuit’s allegation that Pichai approved the deal with Facebook “isn’t accurate”. He added that Google signs hundreds of agreements every year that don’t require CEO approval, and this was no different. He added that the agreement “was never a secret”.

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