Facebook, Google, Amazon face another House inquiry: Bloomberg

Big technology companies already face a series of wide-ranging investigations. (File/AFP)
Updated 01 October 2019

Facebook, Google, Amazon face another House inquiry: Bloomberg

  • A US official plans to invite the companies to face questions from the committee in late October or early November

Facebook Inc, Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc’s Google will face a congressional inquiry on how the big technology companies may be damaging the competitive landscape for small businesses, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.
House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez plans to invite the companies to face questions from the committee in late October or early November, Bloomberg said.
“Chairwoman Velazquez believes that small businesses deserve to compete on a level playing field and hopes the hearing will be an opportunity for the committee to examine how small businesses are faring given the dominance of big tech companies in areas ranging from e-commerce to Internet traffic,” the report said, citing a spokeswoman for Velazquez.
Big technology companies already face a series of wide-ranging investigations, including those from lawmakers and the US Department of Justice, on issues such as engagement in anticompetitive behavior.
Amazon, Facebook and Google did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment outside regular US business hours.


Google tightens political ads policy to thwart abuse

Updated 21 November 2019

Google tightens political ads policy to thwart abuse

  • The Internet company said its rules already ban any advertiser, including those with political messages, to lie

SAN FRANCISCO: Alphabet Inc’s Google will stop giving advertisers the ability to target election ads using data such as public voter records and general political affiliations, the company said in a blog post on Wednesday.
The move comes at a time when social media platforms are under pressure over their handling of political advertising ahead of the US presidential election in 2020.
Google said it would limit audience targeting for election ads to age, gender and general location at a postal code level. Political advertisers also can still contextually target, such as serving ads to people reading about a certain topic.
Previously, verified political advertisers could also target ads using data gleaned from users’ behavior, such as search actions, that categorized them as left-leaning, right-leaning or independent. They could also upload data such as voter file lists to target ads to a lookalike audience which exhibited similar behaviors to those in the data.
Google will enforce the new approach in the United Kingdom within a week, ahead of the country’s general election on Dec. 12. It said it would enforce it in the European Union by the end of the year and in the rest of the world starting on Jan. 6, 2020.
“Given recent concerns and debates about political advertising, and the importance of shared trust in the democratic process, we want to improve voters’ confidence in the political ads they may see on our ad platforms,” Scott Spencer, vice president of product management for Google Ads, said in the blog post.
Google is the top seller of online ads in the United States, but smaller rivals with fewer targeting restrictions may now attract more business from campaigns, one political ad buyer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Wednesday.
Google added examples to its misrepresentation policy to show that it would not allow false claims about election results or the eligibility of political candidates based on age or birthplace.
Last month, Google refused to remove an ad run by President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign on its YouTube video-streaming service that Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden’s campaign said contained false claims, because it did not violate the policy.
A Google spokeswoman told Reuters on Wednesday that the video would still be allowed under the latest policy.
Social media giant Facebook Inc. has been criticized by lawmakers and regulators over its decision to not fact-check ads run by politicians on its platform, while Twitter has decided to ban political ads.
Google also clarified that its policies for political and nonpolitical ads prohibit doctored and manipulated media.
On Dec. 3, the company will expand its ad transparency efforts to ads related to state-level elections, including them in an online database created to catalog political advertising.