Newspaper group files antitrust suit against Google and Facebook over digital advertising monopoly

HD Media, a West Virginia newspaper group, has filed an antitrust complaint against Google and Facebook, claiming that the companies conspired to monopolize digital advertising, endangering local newspapers.

William Gallagher for AppleInsider:

HD Media, which publishes seven newspapers, accuses the two companies of entering into a secret agreement.

According to Editor & Publisher Magazine, the suit specifies that this secret agreement, codenamed “Jedi Blue,” manipulated online advertising auctions. It also claims that Google’s monopolization of the digital advertising market is threatening local newspapers across the US.

“We invite every other newspaper in America to join this cause,” HD Media managing partner Doug Reynolds told Editor & Publisher Magazine. “We are fighting not only for the future of the press but also the preservation of our democracy.”

Gretchen A. Peck for Editor & Publisher:

The plaintiff, HD Media Co., LLC, is the West Virginia-based publisher of seven titles, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Charleston Gazette-Mail and the Herald-Dispatch, a historically significant newspaper that dates back to 1871.

Big Tech is a daunting opponent, so to assist them, HD Media amassed an all-star team of attorneys to plead its case: Wheeling, West Virginia-based Fitzsimmons Law Firm PLLC; Farrell & Fuller LLC in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP in Boca Raton, Florida.; and Atlanta-based Herman Jones LLP.

On Dec. 16, 2020, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and the attorneys general for eight other states and the Commonwealth of Kentucky filed a lawsuit against Google in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District Court, for “anticompetitive conduct” related to digital advertising, arguing that Google has adversely affected advertisers, publishers and consumers—essentially, everyone but Google, which saw its digital ad revenues skyrocket in recent years.

MacDailyNews Take: Good luck to HD Media, their legal team, U.S. states attorneys general, and every publisher who joins HD Media’s effort.

Google/Facebook is a duopoly. A breakup of Google’s and Facebook’s ad businesses would be welcome. In fact, even as we attempt to move away from the ad-supported model, we back whatever remedy or remedies will introduce competition back into the online advertising business, which is broken, in part, because far too much power is concentrated with Google/Facebook. This situation is exactly why antitrust laws exist.

Imagine if your livelihood depended on one company that had not only monopolized web search (and, thereby, basically controlled how new customers find you), but also controlled the bulk of online advertising dollars which funded your business and which they could pull, simply threaten to pull, or reduce rates at any time? Now also imagine if you believe this monopolist basically stole the product of another company that is the very subject of your business? How much would you criticize the monopolist thief’s business practices?

You might guess that it would be a tough road to walk. (We’re only imagining, of course!)

That would be a good example of why monopolies are bad for everyone…

In the meantime, stop using Google search and Google products wherever possible. Monopolies are bad for everyone.MacDailyNews, July 14, 2016

If you haven’t already, give DuckDuckGo a try!

With this unprecedented power, platforms have the ability to redirect into their pockets the advertising dollars that once went to newspapers and magazines. No one company should have the power to pick and choose which content reaches consumers and which doesn’t.MacDailyNews, November 9, 2017

We’d like to see real competition in the online search and advertising markets restored someday.MacDailyNews, March 20, 2019


  1. Just a quick note to my fellow Australians Mac users against the rapacious Google in our fight for fair compensation for Australian news outlets.

    Backgrounding the story, Google has threatened to quit Australia and take their business elsewhere. Well my advice to Google is to do just that and we’ll use other search engines such as Bing which has signed on to the government’s new arrangements.

    Duckduckgo hasn’t agreed to this yet so I’ve set up Safari to use Bing. If the former agrees to join the party and their search facilities are as good as Bing or Google then I’ll change again.

    Go figure, that I’m recommending a Microsoft product. Oh well the worm IS turning.

  2. Amen, MDN. Craig’s List killed the classified ad cash cow for newspapers leading to their demise after 2000 and now the online threat is ever growing. This is a tough one for me, because most newspapers are Liberal BIASED and newsroom employees are over 85% registered Democrats since the late 1980s, hmmm, we shall see…

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