Google CEO Sundar Pichai Signed Off on Deal at Center of Antitrust Case, States Say

Google’s chief executive has approved an agreement with Facebook at the center of a no-confidence lawsuit filed by 16 states and Puerto Rico against search giants, according to part of a complaint released Friday.

The lawsuit, filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, alleges that Google acquired a monopoly on the network of technologies used to deliver online ads.

When publishers began using an alternative system to sell their ad space, Google, according to the lawsuit, undermined it by creating a similar system that controlled it. States argue that Google struck a deal with Facebook to get the social network involved in its attempt to “kill” the publishers’ competitive plan.

In a new non-revised part of the lawsuit filed in federal court, States states that since 2015, the company’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, has “personally signed the terms of the deal.”

New appearances in the lawsuit also include details of applications that states say Google uses to mislead buyers and sellers about the exact nature of the auctions they are participating in, which could make Google more money in the process.

Google Complaints stated that the complaint “is still fraught with inaccuracies and lacks legal competence.”

“We sign hundreds of contracts every year that do not require CEO approval, and that was no different,” he said.

In another new public part, states cite a “Facebook document” from February 2017 that states that Google wants to “kill” the competitive system and that Facebook “will significantly help baptizing their product.”

At one point, Facebook employees working on the deal emailed Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, saying, “We’re almost ready to sign and we need your approval to move forward.” Mr. Zuckerberg’s name has still been removed from the lawsuit, but not the title.

In a statement, the parent company for Facebook’s parent company Meta said its deal with Google “and similar agreements with other bidding platforms have helped increase competition for ad placement.”

There have been no-confidence lawsuits filed by government agencies against the tech giants in the last two years. The Justice Department and a group of states have accused Google of abusing its monopoly on online search. This week, a judge said the Federal Trade Commission could move forward with a lawsuit against Facebook. Apple and Amazon are also facing questions of disbelief.

The judge in the case said Google had until next Friday to respond to the latest version of the lawsuit. Google plans to ask the judge to dismiss the case, he said.

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