According to a portion of the complaint released Friday, the Google chief executive approved an agreement with Facebook at the heart of an antitrust lawsuit that 16 states and Puerto Rico have filed against the search giant.
The lawsuit, filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, alleges that Google obtained and abused a monopoly on a network of technologies used to display ads online.
When publishers began using an alternative system to sell their ad space, Google tried to undermine it by creating a similar system that it controlled, according to the lawsuit. The states allege that Google has reached an agreement with Facebook to have the social network join its efforts to “kill” a rival publisher plan.
In a recently unredacted portion of the lawsuit filed in federal court, the states said Sundar Pichai, the company’s chief executive since 2015, “also personally signed the terms of the deal.”
The new visible portions of the lawsuit also include details of programs that states say Google used to mislead buyers and sellers of advertising space about the exact nature of the auctions they were participating in, allowing Google to make more money in the process.
A Google spokesperson said the complaint “remains full of inaccuracies and has no legal force.”
“Every year we sign hundreds of agreements that do not require CEO approval, and this is no exception,” the spokesperson said.
In another new public part, the states cite a February 2017 “Facebook document” saying that Google wanted to “kill” the competing system and that Facebook would “christen its product help significantly.”
At one point, Facebook employees working on the deal emailed Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, “We’re almost ready to sign the agreement and we need your approval to move forward.” Mr. Zuckerberg’s name is still cut from the lawsuit, but not his title.
In a statement, a spokesman for Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said its deal with Google “and similar agreements we have with other bidding platforms have helped increase competition for ad placement.”
The antitrust lawsuit is one of several filed by the government against the tech giants in the past two years. The Justice Department and a group of states are suing Google, alleging that the company has abused its monopoly on online search. This week, a judge said the FTC could sue Facebook. Apple and Amazon are also facing antitrust investigations.
The judge in the case said Google has until next Friday to respond to the latest version of the lawsuit. Google plans to ask the judge to drop the case, a spokesman said.