Google and Facebook CEOs colluded in online-ad sales scheme, unredacted antitrust lawsuit alleges

Chief executives of the parent companies of Google and Facebook colluded to manipulate online advertising sales under a 2018 scheme nicknamed Jedi Blue and signed off on it, state attorneys general allege in newly unredacted filings.

The filings are part of a lawsuit filed in December 2020 by 14 state attorneys general led by Texas AG Ken Paxton, which charges Google parent Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, +0.64% GOOG, +0.47% with “anticompetitive conduct.” Sections of the complaint that focused on interactions with Facebook parent Meta Inc. FB, +1.66%, along with other details, had been redacted previously, but most redactions were removed Friday after an earlier ruling in the case and showed top leaders of the two companies agreeing to work together.

“Google understood the severity of the threat to its position if Facebook were to enter the market and support header bidding,” the complaint reads. “To diffuse this threat, Google made overtures to Facebook.”

The Jedi Blue program had previously been exposed in court filings, but the involvement of top officials was previously unknown. While the names of Meta Platforms Inc. FB, +1.66% CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg are still redacted, their titles are visible. Meta is not a defendant in the case.

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