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Google, Facebook Pledged to Work Together against Potential Antitrust Suit: Report

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 5, 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Google and Facebook pledged to help one another if they faced investigations into their alleged agreement to collaborate on online advertising, according to a draft lawsuit reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.

Texas and ten other states filed an antitrust suit against Google last week, alleging that the search engine reached an agreement with Facebook whereby the social media giant would curtail its digital advertising activity in exchange for favorable treatment from Google at ad auctions.

The antitrust suit is partially redacted, however an earlier draft of the lawsuit claims that Google and Facebook agreed to “cooperate and assist one another” should they be investigated on antitrust claims, the Journal reported. The contract between Facebook and Google stated that the companies would “cooperate and assist each other in responding to any Antitrust Action,” and “promptly and fully inform the Other Party of any Governmental Communication Related to the Agreement.”

Google and Facebook both dispute the allegations in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit’s “claims are inaccurate. We don’t manipulate the [ad] auction,” a Google spokesperson told the Journal, adding that agreements against potential antitrust suits are common. A Facebook spokesperson said that “any allegation that this harms competition or any suggestion of misconduct on the part of Facebook is baseless.”

Big tech companies have faced increasing scrutiny from regulatory authorities during the Trump administration. The Federal Trade Commission and 48 U.S. states filed two lawsuits earlier this month seeking to break up Facebook, alleging that the company holds a monopoly over various social media outlets.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.