West Virginia newspaper company files antitrust suit against Google, Facebook

Tech monopoly "threatens the extinction of local newspapers across the country," suit argues.

Updated: January 30, 2021 - 3:26pm

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A newspaper company has lodged a lawsuit against tech giants Google and Facebook, arguing that their virtual dominance of the digital market in the U.S. endangers not just "the freedom of the press" but "the press itself."

In the lawsuit, HD Media argues that Google "monopolizes the market to such extent that it threatens the extinction of local newspapers across the country."

"There is no longer a competitive market in which newspapers can fairly compete for online advertising revenue," the suit asserts. "Google has vertically integrated itself, through hundreds of mergers and acquisitions, to enable dominion over all sellers, buyers, and middlemen in the marketplace. It has absorbed the market internally and consumed most of the revenue."

The suit further argues that Google and Facebook—through the purported "Jedi Blue" agreement—"conspired to further their worldwide dominance of the digital advertising market" by "unlawfully conspir[ing] to manipulate online auctions which generate digital advertising revenue."

The complaint argues that Google and Facebook have violated the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, one that sought to limit anticompetitive arrangements between big businesses. 

HD Media seeks damages as well as an injunction against Google and Facebook from undertaking any such alleged business practices in the future.