The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and seven states in the US have filed a lawsuit against Google, the international technology behemoth, and iHeartMedia, Inc, the country’s largest radio station network. This is in connection with Google indulging in deceptive advertising in 2019 and 2020 for promoting Pixel 4, its flagship smartphone.
The seven states that joined Google in filing the lawsuit are New York, California, Illinois, Arizona, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Texas.
As per the lawsuit, FTC and the seven states have pleaded for prohibiting Google and iHeartMedia from making such misrepresentations. They have also demanded both parties pay $9.4 million in penalties.
The FTC & Seven States Have Filed A Lawsuit Against Google For Its Allegedly Fraudulent Advertising Of The Pixel 4!
According to the FTC case, the corporations ran 29,000 misleading ads using influencers to promote a product they never utilised. It was in 2019 that Google entered into an agreement with iHeartMedia and 11 other radio networks in ten major markets to develop content and air celebrity endorsements for promoting the Pixel 4 phone.
Google supplied iHeartMedia with scripts and the lines had a special mention of the features of Pixel 4. The ads contained prescripted lines such as “It’s my favorite phone camera out there, especially in low light, thanks to Night Sight Mode,” “I’ve been taking studio-like photos of everything,” and “It’s also great at helping me get stuff done, thanks to the new voice-activated Google Assistant that can handle multiple tasks at once.”
However, before airing the radio ads, the celebrity endorsers were not provided with the Pixel 4 phone. Thus they ended up promoting a product that they never used before. In the lawsuit, FTC alleged that the ads aired in English and Spanish languages had violated consumer protection laws.
Google and iHeartMedia reportedly paid influencers to promote Pixel 4, a phone they had never tried. He went on to add that it was a case of clear disrespect of truth-in-advertising rules.
Following the allegations by FTC, Google and iHeartMedia have decided to settle the lawsuit by paying $9.4 million. José Castañeda, spokesperson of Google stated that the company is pleased to resolve the issue. He added that Google takes advertising law compliance seriously and has mechanisms in place to satisfy legislation and industry standards. However, iHeartMedia refused to comment on this matter.
Google has been the target of several of these kinds of claims in the past few years. In the second week of November, the company decided to pay $391.5 million for settling a case following allegations by 40 states that the search engine major illegally tracked the locations of its users. Arizona also sued Alphabet for the same thing in October and paid $85 million to settle the case.
In the month of October, The Competition Commission of India imposed a provisional penalty of Rs 1,337.76 crore ($162 million) on Google. The country’s competition regulator said the business abused its market dominance in certain Android mobile device ecosystem categories.
The Competition Commission of India also accused Google of taking advantage of the licensing of its operating system for smart mobile devices, general web search services, the app store market for Android smart mobiles, non-operating system-specific mobile web browsers, and online video hosting platforms. CCI said the company must let users choose their default search engine during device setup.