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Ten States Accuse Google of Colluding with Facebook to Rig Digital Ad Market

The Google sign on one of the company’s office buildings in Irvine, Calif., October 20, 2020. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

A group of ten states filed an antitrust suit against Google on Thursday, alleging that the search engine engaged in anticompetitive practices in the digital advertising market.

According to the suit, Google reached an agreement with Facebook whereby the social media giant would curtail its own digital advertising initiatives in exchange for favorable treatment at Google ad auctions. The suit comes after the Justice Department sued Google in October, arguing that Google maintained a web of business agreements to maintain its dominance among search engines.

“Google is a trillion-dollar monopoly brazenly abusing its monopolistic power, going so far as to induce senior Facebook executives to agree to a contractual scheme that undermines the heart of [the] competitive process,” Texas attorney general Ken Paxton said in a statement announcing the suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in that state.

“Attorney General Paxton’s ad tech claims are meritless, yet he’s gone ahead in spite of all the facts,” a Google spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. “We will strongly defend ourselves from his baseless claims in court.” Facebook declined to comment on the lawsuit.

All of the state attorneys-general joining the lawsuit are Republican. The investigation prior to the suit began as a bipartisan initiative, however, and it is possible that Democratic attorneys general could join the lawsuit.

The new antitrust suit comes amid heightened scrutiny of the big tech companies Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon. On December 9, the Justice Department and a group of 48 states filed separate antitrust lawsuits seeking to break up Facebook.

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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.

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