Google still fails to crack down on ad ‘scams’, says senator
Digital advertising giant Google “regularly” fails to curb fraudulent ads, despite policies in place that prohibit them, according to a senior Democrat.
In a new letter to the CEO of Google Sundar Pichai shared exclusively with The Technology 202, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D.Conn.) wrote that the tech giant has demonstrated a “disturbing record of inadequate due diligence against fraud and abuse.”
As Google has faced antitrust allegations that it is harming consumers by stifling competition in the digital ad market, the missive is part of a growing battle over whether tech companies are breaking the rules against misleading users.
The letter cites a May 2021 survey by my colleague Jeremy Merrill finding that advertisers impersonated government websites in google ads, despite the ban on this practice. While Google said it had removed the ads, a new review from Blumenthal’s office found that “a search for the exact keywords in the article returns the same misleading ads again.”
Blumenthal also said his staff had found Google ads for misleading health treatments, including for “weight loss teas” and “detox teas,” despite being restricted by the company.
Blumenthal, who chairs the Senate Consumer Protection Panel, said the examples suggest Google’s policies against fraudulent ads “often appear to be a dead letter.”
He added: “I am deeply concerned that Google appears unwilling to protect consumers and small businesses on Google Ads, and has performed inadequate due diligence against fraud and abuse. »
The Democratic lawmaker is calling on Google to announce changes to “prevent misleading or fraudulent ads from appearing to consumers” by September 2. It includes a slew of questions about the company’s research into how users interact with Google ads.
Google spokesman Davis Thompson said in a statement that the company is reviewing the letter and intends to offer a “complete answer.
Thompson added that Google has “strict policies in place to protect people and advertisers from abuse” and that “search ads are also clearly labeled.”
At the time, Google told Jeremy that it had removed ads that imitated government websites and that the company prohibited ads “that mislead users by implying an affiliation with a government agency.” But the company didn’t say why the ads were able to circumvent Google’s policies.
It’s a question that could draw the attention of federal regulators, who have focused on how digital platforms can amplify scams and enable fraud.
The Federal Trade Commission released a report in January calling social media a “gold mine” for scammers. The agency said it found that in 2021, more than 95,000 people reported around $770 million in losses from fraud that began on social media, compared to $258 million in 2020.
The report went on to warn that “scammers could easily use the tools available to advertisers on social media platforms to systematically target people with fake ads based on personal details such as their age, interests or past purchases. “.
Earlier FTC analysis also found that social media scams have skyrocketed during the pandemic, including through digital advertising. The agency said it has sent more than 400 letters to companies asking them to stop their actions in response.
“Strikingly, about half of advertisers who received letters made problematic claims on one or more of the four largest social media platforms. » Samuel Levinehead of the FTC’s consumer protection bureau, wrote in November.
It’s an area of bipartisan concern, and some lawmakers, including Blumenthal, have proposed legislation to expand the federal government’s crackdown on consumer protection violations that take place online. such as excessive pricing.
The coUld missive also serves as a precursor to increased oversight on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have repeatedly called companies to testify about their practices.
NTIA will meddle in privacy and competition, says senior official
The NTIA’s interest in privacy comes as talk of a bipartisan privacy bill heats up on Capitol Hill. Long-stalled bill faces some opposition as written by Senate Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), however.
Davidson declined to comment on the legislation because the Biden administration has not weighed in on various privacy proposals. But Davison argued for strong privacy rules. “If you’re interested in using data for good, you should also be a supporter of strong privacy legislation and make sure we have good rules of the road because we’re not in a good and sustainable place right now and that we can do much better,” Davidson told an audience member in response to a question.
A long-awaited report on competition in the mobile app ecosystem is also being finalized, Davidson said. President Biden requested this report as part of a competition-driven competition. executive order last year. The report is being reviewed by the Biden administration, Davidson said.
Internet regulator obtains details of 30 algorithms from Chinese tech companies
Chinese tech companies like Tencent and ByteDance have given the China Cyberspace Administration information about their algorithms for the first time, Bloomberg News said. jane zhang Reports. This comes after new regulations on algorithm disclosures came into effect in China.
“The tech industry’s algorithms are closely guarded and have been at the heart of political controversies around the world,” Zhang writes. “This disclosure requirement sets China apart from countries like the United States, where Meta Platforms Inc. and Alphabet Inc. have successfully argued that algorithms are trade secrets, even as lawmakers and activists seek better understand how they organize content and manage data. »
Workers at Amazon’s growing air cargo division leave work
Independently organized employees demanded higher wages and safety improvements, Lauren Kaori Gurley and Caroline O’Donovan report. More than 150 workers walked off Monday, organizers said. That’s a fraction of the 1,500 employees who work at the air hub in San Bernardino, California.
“Monday’s walkout is the latest sign that pro-union sentiment is spreading through Amazon’s ranks — this time at a particularly vulnerable point in its logistics network,” Lauren and Caroline wrote. Amazon relies heavily on a small number of airline hubs to move millions of packages each day, meaning the impact of a strike or work stoppage at any of these facilities would have a greater impact. important than a similar action in a regional warehouse.
Meanwhile, online influencers are rallying to support the Amazon Labor Union, Taylor Lorenz and Caroline report. A group of 70 TikTok creators, who have a combined following of more than 51 million people, say they are closing storefronts and halting new partnerships with Amazon until it responds to ALU demands, like a $30 minimum wage and ending what they say is “union busting”.
(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Real estate company Flow, WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann, has secured a $350 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz. Founder and investor of start-ups Janine Sickmeyer:
Our colleague Will Oremus:
So what do you call this system where women and black founders get almost no venture capital money, but adam neumann gets unlimited funding for life?
vcs: [“the aristocrats” voice] meritocracy! https://t.co/bg29M1DJut
— Will Oremus (@WillOremus) August 15, 2022
Apple allegedly threatened to fire employee over viral TikTok video (The Verge)
The increase in worker productivity score (The New York Times)
Twitter only has to give Musk one failed bot Ker data: his ex-head of product (Bloomberg)
Google Maps regularly mislead people looking for abortion clinics (Bloomberg)
YouTube advances plans for streaming video market (The Wall Street Journal)
Fourth strike: Facebook misses erroneous election information in Brazilian ads (Associated Press)
A faster internet is coming to America – as soon as the government knows where to build it (The Wall Street Journal)
FTC pushes to block Meta VR takeover slated for December showdown (Bloomberg)
Elon Musk outlines ambitious goals in magazine run by China’s internet censorship agency (The Verge)
- Scott Blake Harris joined NTIA as Senior Spectrum Advisor.
- Jan Anders Mansson, Haley Oliver and Cristina Farmus joined the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue as senior fellows.
- Affirm CEO Max Levchinwho co-founded PayPal, speaks at a Washington Post Live event today at 2:15 p.m.
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