After accusing Google of using false advertising to promote the Google Pixel 4 smartphone, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton reached an $8 million settlement with the technology giant.
Paxton alleged that Google hired radio DJs to produce advertisements describing their experience with the 2019 Pixel 4 but refused to send the DJs the product it paid them to promote.
The AG’s office accused Google of “prioritizing profits over truthfulness” by continuing to circulate the deceptive ads after they knew the campaign violated the law.
Last year, the Federal Trade Commission and seven U.S. states—New York, Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Texas—sued Google and iHeartMedia for airing 29,000 deceptive ads.
The FTC alleged that Google violated consumer protection laws when they provided iHeartMedia with scripts promoting the Pixel 4 that included lines like, “It’s my favorite phone camera out there, especially in low light, thanks to night sight mode,” and, “I’ve been taking studio-like photos of everything,” even though the radio DJs who recorded the ads had never interacted with the Pixel 4.
Google ended up paying the FTC and the seven states $9.4 million in penalties.
“Google and iHeartMedia paid influencers to promote products they never used, showing a blatant disrespect for truth-in-advertising rules,” said Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Samuel Levine. “The FTC will not stop working with our partners in the states to crack down on deceptive ads and ensure firms that break the rules pay a price.”
Following Paxton’s claim, the AG’s office reached a separate $8 million settlement with Google.
Paxton celebrated the outcome and condemned the technology company for pushing false advertisements.
“Texas will do whatever it takes to protect our citizens and our state economy from corporations’ false and misleading advertisements,” wrote Paxton. “If Google is going to advertise in Texas, their statements better be true. In this case, the company made statements that were blatantly false, and our settlement holds Google accountable for lying to Texans for financial gain.”
This is not Paxton’s first run-in with Google.
Last year, Paxton sued the technology giant for creating a database of Texans’ biometric identities using voice recordings and facial recognition files. He accused Google of violating state law by using Texans’ sensitive information for commercial profit.
In a statement regarding his recent settlement with the company, Paxton promised to continue protecting Texans from opportunistic corporations like Google.
“Google enjoys significant influence over individual consumers and the marketplace broadly,” wrote Paxton. “It is imperative that large companies do not expect or enjoy special treatment under the law. They must be held accountable for their misdeeds. I will continue to protect the integrity of our marketplace and ensure that companies who lie to Texas consumers are held to account.”
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