Amazon Accused by FTC of Intentionally Filling Search Results with Junk Ads

  • The FTC has released new documents as part of its antitrust probe into Amazon.
  • The documents reveal that Amazon intentionally packed search results pages with irrelevant ads.
  • Amazon also pressured third-party sellers to offer products at lower prices on its platform.
  • The documents also mention a secret algorithm called “Project Nessie” that Amazon used to raise prices and monitor competitors.
  • The FTC alleges that Amazon used Signal’s disappearing message feature to delete over two years’ worth of internal communications.

Hate all the junk ads popping up when you browse Amazon?

According to new documents released by the FTC as part of its antitrust probe of Amazon, the company intentionally packed its search results pages with junk ads. These documents, which were previously heavily redacted, provide key evidence in the FTC’s case against Amazon.

One of the major allegations in the unredacted portions of the complaint is that Amazon sold irrelevant ads, which it internally referred to as “defects,” to boost its advertising profits. This coincided with Amazon pressuring third-party sellers to lower their prices on the platform or risk unfavorable search result placement.

The documents also reveal the existence of a secret algorithm called “Project Nessie,” which Amazon used between 2015 and 2019 to calculate price hikes and monitor whether competitors would follow suit. The FTC claims that this algorithm generated over $1 billion in additional profits for Amazon, but the company denies this and says the algorithm was used to prevent price-matching from lowering prices to unsustainable levels.

In addition to these allegations, the FTC accuses Amazon of using Signal’s disappearing message feature to delete over two years’ worth of internal communications, which could have been crucial evidence against the company.

Overall, these newly revealed details paint a damning picture of Amazon’s business practices and provide further ammunition for the FTC’s antitrust case.

Hot Take:

Amazon’s alleged intentional placement of junk ads and pressure on third-party sellers to lower prices raises concerns about the company’s ethics and its abuse of its dominant market position. If these allegations are true, it undermines Amazon’s reputation as a fair and customer-centric marketplace and warrants a closer examination of its practices by regulators.**

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