Amazon India own brand search engine rigging

Occurred: October 2021

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Reuters has obtained thousands of pages of internal Amazon documents that appear to show the company in India has been running a 'systematic' programme of copying other companies' products and promoting them by manipulating its own search results.

The documents indicate Amazon India employees have been using 'search seeding', 'search sparkles' and other techniques so that the company’s own label product lines, such as AmazonBasics and Solimo, would appear 'in the first 2 or three … search results' on Amazon.in.

Amazon US knock-offs, search rigging

A parallel investigation by The Markup indicates that Amazon has been regularly placing its own brand products above those of competitor products in the US.

In March 2022, the US House of Representatives’ antitrust subcommittee accused (pdf) Amazon of lying to Congress about how it treats third-party sellers, including whether it preferences its own brands and exclusive products in search results.

It also asked (pdf) the Department of Justice to investigate Amazon for 'potentially criminal' obstruction of Congress.

Operator: Amazon
Developer: Amazon

Country: India

Sector: Technology

Purpose: Rank content/search results

Technology: Search engine algorithm

Issue: Ethics; Competition/price fixing; IP abuse/misuse
Transparency: Governance; Complaints/appeals; Black box; Marketing

Page info
Published: October 2021
Last updated: March 2022