Everyone knows the old saying, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Google and Facebook apparently took this to heart after an illegal collusion between the two recently came to light by the release of documents from a lawsuit filed against them.
This all started by Facebook developing a progressive advertisement sales strategy that threatened to compete with Google’s advertising sales. In response to this, Google approached Facebook with an unlawful partnership to prevent this conflict in business. In this deal, nicknamed “Jedi Blue”, Google was offering Facebook a partnership opportunity with an abundance of incentives such as advantages in header bidding auctions, analytical advertising intel and Facebook advertisements showing up more in Google ads in exchange for a decrease in competition and Facebook’s support of Google’s header bidding alternative, “Open Bidding”. Header bidding is basically a stock market for selling ads online and it is a significant part of digital advertising so this alliance is affecting the ability of other companies to compete fairly in the ad market.
The lawsuit was initiated by another company that complained about their business deals with Google not receiving the same advantages as Facebook. Although it is not completely uncommon for businesses to participate in deals that benefit the success of companies, the lawsuit shows this was more of a collusion than a casual partnership. Of course Google and Facebook are trying to downplay the collaboration as a common business transaction for the digital advertising industry but the legal documents tell a different story. In the agreement documents, it is mentioned that both parties must agree to “cooperate and assist” each other if investigated. The fact that a clause had to be included about events of possible investigation from the law shows that Google and Facebook knew this accord was not completely ethical. The base crime of the lawsuit was that Google was guilty of committing antitrust evils. Antitrust evils are when a company breaks an antitrust law, which are in place to keep competitive markets as ethical as possible and prevent competing companies from creating advantages that are unfair to other businesses in an industry.
According to The New York Times, the contract between them mentioned the word “antitrust” multiple times which concludes how the ethics of this alliance were understood and being intentionally broken. “‘The word ‘antitrust’ is mentioned no less than 20 times’ throughout the agreement, the draft complaint said.” (Hsu and Wakabayashi). The class action claim also mentions how Google is acting as a monopoly power in the publisher advertisement server market. Facebook has been known to participate in disreputable behavior that has gotten them in trouble legally in the past and as of recently with the whistleblower from Facebook giving testimony for the United States Senate. So this is not much of a surprise for users but Google’s nefarious actions are starting to create doubt in business owners, consumers and especially in marketers who rely on an unbiased chance in the ad market.
“Google allegedly creates ad monopoly with Facebook to favor its own exchange according to new, unredacted details from Project Jedi”
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