The massive lawsuits filed by newspapers alleging monopolistic conduct by Google and Facebook have been joined by Capital Region Independent Media LLC, a publisher in the Albany, New York area.
The company filed a complaint against Google LLC and Meta Platforms Inc. last Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.
Like others of its type, it alleges that Google and Facebook “unlawfully conspired to manipulate online auctions which generate digital advertising revenue,” creating a duopoly and harming publishers that rely on these monies for their existence.
“The freedom of the press is not at stake; the press itself is at stake,” the complaint states.
The suit will probably be consolidated with others in a multidistrict litigation in Manhattan, according to The Daily Gazette, an Albany-area news publication.
Quoting such sources as a House Judiciary report, the complaint continues that Google “created a ‘walled garden’ to retain its captured audience through acquisition, merger, and elimination of threats to its platform.”
It also charges that “Google and Facebook, archrivals in the digital advertising market, conspired to further their worldwide dominance of the digital advertising market in a secret agreement they codenamed ‘Jedi Blue.’”
Moreover, it states that “Google has significantly monetized the content produced by newspapers while impeding newspapers’ ability to effectively monetize their own original content and/or effectively excluding newspapers from the digital advertising market."
The suit seeks “treble damages, punitive damages, and/or restitution in an amount to be determined at trial.” It also asks the court to enjoin the defendants from continuing the alleged conduct.
Capital Region Independent Media publishes such Albany-area periodicals as Ravena News Herald, along with others in upstate New York and Vermont. Albany, being the state capital of New York, is a primary news venue.
Meanwhile, news publishers were informed last week that Meta will no longer pay for their content on Facebook’s News Tab. They are free to publish content on Facebook—but they will not be paid for it.
“Publishers are again learning a lesson they have learned before, whether it be from pivots to video or errors in attribution: They can’t be fully reliant on the walled gardens,” says Adam Berkowitz, chief of staff at LiveIntent, an ad-tech platform that specializes in email newsletter advertisements for publishers and retailers.