US Trade Commission issues Google with US$9.4 million fine for misleading Pixel 4 advertising
Google and iHeartRadio have been caught deceptively advertising the Pixel 4 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In a press release, the FTC explains that it and seven federal states are suing the two companies after iHeartRadio ran almost 29,000 fake testimonials of its radio personalities across its subsidiaries. For reference, iHeartRadio is the largest radio owner in the US.
According to the FTC, Google paid iHeartRadio US$2.6 million for radio hosts to read an approved script but make it sound as if they were personal endorsements. The script included lines such as:
- I’ve been taking studio-like photos of everything.
- It’s my favorite phone camera out there, especially in low light, thanks to Night Sight Mode.
- 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.
Supposedly, the radio presenters in question did not have a chance to use the Pixel 4 before recording their testimonials, underlining that they should have been labelled as paid advertising, not an opinion. The FTC adds that Google agreed to similar deals with 11 other radio networks, totalling a further US$2 million. In response, Google has settled with the FTC and the federal states that joined the lawsuit, in which it agreed to pay US$9.4 million in fines and not to misrepresent testimonials in future. At the time of writing, iHeartRadio has not commented on the matter.