Google and Meta are facing two new antitrust investigations over a secret — and possibly illegal — ad deal.
European Union and U.K. regulators have opened antitrust investigations into the two companies centered around their 2018 "Jedi Blue" advertising deal, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times report.
The European Commission alleged that a 2018 deal between Google and Meta "may form part of efforts to exclude ad tech services competing with Google's Open Bidding programme, and therefore restrict or distort competition in markets for online display advertising." Meta has been accused of dropping an adtech system that was a rival to Google's "after Google offered the company preferential access to its bidding system for online ads," The Verge writes.
Meanwhile, the U.K's Competition and Markets Authority has also opened an investigation into the companies.
"We're concerned that Google may have teamed up with Meta to put obstacles in the way of competitors who provide important online display advertising services to publishers," CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said.
The 2018 deal between Google and Meta came to light as part of a lawsuit against Google filed by state attorneys general, according to The New York Times. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton alleged Google is "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."
In a statement to the Times, Google said the "allegations made about this agreement are false," while Meta said that its "business relationships enable Meta to deliver more value to advertisers and publishers, resulting in better outcomes for all."