The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and seven US states sued Google and US media company iHeartMedia over alleged deceptive adverts which used radio personalities to promote the Pixel 4 smartphone in 2019 and 2020, heaping further pressure on the Alphabet-owned business over its business practices and claimed dominance of various markets.
Reuters reported the companies had settled claims lodged by the authority and US states. The FTC stated they had accused Google of hiring iHeartMedia and 11 other radio networks in ten major domestic markets in 2019 to air scripted endorsements for the Pixel 4 phone by personalities which had yet to receive the device.
The FTC explained this meant the endorsements came from people who did not own or regularly use the Pixel 4.
FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection director Samuel Levine said “Google and iHeartMedia paid influencers to promote products they never used, showing a blatant disrespect for truth-in-advertising rules”.
Along with the states of Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Texas, the FTC had proposed Google and iHeartMedia be prohibited from repeating the alleged breaches, with the states also seeking $9.4 million in penalties.
The FTC explained it is also pressing for Google and iHeartMedia to be made to “file compliance reports” and maintain records allowing the authority to ensure the companies are playing ball.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back