Internet giant Amazon is currently undergoing antitrust investigations. But as well as this, the firm has now been accused of creating algorithms that promote certain products which it knew would deliver higher profit margins than others.
In a report by the Wall Street Journal, various sources were named, saying that Amazon had recently changed its product search algorithms. There are claims that the company did this to promote its own products over those from other sellers.
The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter, reported Monday that Amazon tweaked its product-search algorithm late last year to elevate its own products over those from other sellers, despite internal objections to the idea.
In a statement, Amazons says it “changed the criteria we use to rank search results to include profitability.” It added: Amazon designs its shopping and discovery experience to feature the products customers will want, regardless of whether they are our own brands or products offered by our selling partners.”
Although it’s not clear what effect this had on Amazon’s profits, the firm is already facing antitrust investigations in the US and Europe, so this won’t help its case.
Last month, regulators in the US announced a wide antitrust probe into several large tech companies. It said that it would be focusing on how these companies achieve the power they have in the market, including practices that might have “reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers.”
Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), leader of the antitrust investigation, in a statement: “Today’s document requests are an important milestone in this investigation as we work to obtain the information that our Members need to make this determination,” adding that “this information is key in helping determine whether anticompetitive behavior is occurring, whether our antitrust enforcement agencies should investigate specific issues and whether or not our antitrust laws need improvement to better promote competition in the digital markets.”