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Facebook, Google Allegedly Cooperated In Illegal Data Deal

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Google now faces a lawsuit from no fewer than ten US states, reports indicate, with allegations that the search giant cooperated with Facebook on illegal deals relating to data in advertising. While still unproven in court, the Texas-led suit alleges that Google gave Facebook preferential treatment as part of the dealings. With the end goal of consolidating its own online advertising dominance in order to maintain its position respective to competitors.

Specifically, the two ad sale giants agreed to give Facebook the option to place ads alongside Google’s publishing partners. As a result, a blog using Google software to sell ads could make revenue from another retailer that had ads on Facebook. That’s a deal that’s also given by Google to other advertising partners. But Google went further with Facebook, giving the platform preferential treatment. And, as a result, Facebook ultimately allegedly agreed to provide less support to competing platforms.

What illegal activity did Google & Facebook allegedly take part in?

Making matters worse, Google also agreed to give Facebook access to at least some of its data. And it also gave Facebook a pass on policies, allowing the company to garner more ads than other Google partners.

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Google and Facebook also allegedly fixed prices of ads and continued cooperation beyond the initial scope of the deals. Although that segment of complaints has reportedly been heavily redacted, the “scope and extensive nature of cooperation” between Facebook and Google indicates that the two companies were aware of potential antitrust violations.

The complaint surprisingly leaves Facebook unscathed

In terms of responses from the companies, Google’s Peter Schottenfels has said that the allegations are inaccurate. Mr. Schottenfels also said that Facebook doesn’t receive preferential treatment or special data from the company. Facebook, conversely, is not only not commenting on the matter. The lawsuit has also surprisingly not named Facebook as having conducted illegal activity in the complaint.

Now, the complaint does indicate that “Facebook decided to dangle the threat of competition in Google’s face and then cut a deal to manipulate the auction.” And that’s reportedly citing internal communications.

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The U.S. Department of Justice has also not commented on the matter. But the department has been investigating this particular agreement as part of its ongoing antitrust probe into the search giant.

There also are and have been several antitrust investigations into Facebook over the past several months. As well as more recent calls to break up the social media site. But the accusations about illegal data dealings here are leveled solely at Google and not Facebook.