Amazon has been accused of failing to disclose adverts in search results, according to a labour union.
The ecommerce giant is on the receiving end of a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which alleges the company is “unlawfully deceiving millions of consumers” by failing to disclose advertisements in its search results.
The complaint, which was filed by the Strategic Organising Centre (SOC), claims that Amazon violated federal disclosure regulations that call for visual identification of advertisements in search results.
The SOC is a coalition of four labor unions representing a total of four million workers across an array of industries.
“SOC has found evidence that Amazon is systematically flouting FTC guidance for such disclosures, and in addition is deliberately obfuscating identification of a key category of advertisements by delaying their ad labels from loading for several seconds,” The union wrote in the filing.
The complaint references an analysis of 130,000 product search results in which the SOC claims a large proportion of adverts are not distinguishable from organic search results, which the SOC says “throws into question the fundamental integrity of ‘search’ on Amazon’s online platform.”
An Amazon spokesperson hit back at the claims and said that the complaint is “incorrect and misstates FTC guidance,” adding that advertisements featured on the site “always include a clear and prominent ‘sponsored’ label in accordance with FTC guidelines, when speaking to Business Insider.
“We design our store to help customers discover products we think may best meet their needs – sponsored ads is one of the ways to help them find products they may be interested in,” the spokesperson wrote in a statement.
Currently, sponsored adverts must be clearly distinguishable from non-advertised products in a way that is noticeable and understandable to consumers,” according to FTC guidelines.