Google, Facebook made secret pact against possible antitrust action

WSJ report cites unredacted version of landmark antitrust suit against tech giant Google.

Prosecutors in a Texas-led suite against Google and Facebook believe that the two tech giants teamed up to help shield each other against antitrust complaints, US media reported.

Last week Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton charged that Google rigged advertising auctions, taking advantage of its position serving up adverts as well as online search results.

On Tuesday, citing an unredacted version of the motion filed by 10 states against Google, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google has an unlawful agreement with Facebook to avoid free market competition.

According to the lawsuit, Google used a "Star Wars" reference as a code name for the clandestine deal, calling it "Jedi Blue."

WSJ reported that the lawsuit said Google and Facebook were aware that their agreement could trigger antitrust investigations and discussed how to deal with them.

The unredacted draft version of the lawsuit also reportedly said it was Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg who inked the deal with Google.

The draft version also cites an email in which Sandberg told Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and other executives that "this is a big deal strategically," the report said.

The antitrust suit puts to the test Google's long-running business model coupling a free search engine and free services like email and YouTube with paid advertising.

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