Google has agreed to an $8 million settlement with Texas over deceptive ads promoting its Pixel 4 smartphone, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced today.
At issue was Google’s trustworthiness as an advertiser after the tech giant “hired radio DJs to record and broadcast detailed testimonials about their personal experiences with the Pixel 4,” but then “refused to provide the DJs with a phone for them to use,” Paxton said.
The tech giant had previously settled claims from the Federal Trade Commission and six other states for approximately $9 million, and Paxton seemed proud that his “settlement recovers $8 million for the State of Texas alone.”
Google did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment, but a company spokesperson previously told TechCrunch that “we take compliance with advertising laws seriously and have processes in place designed to help ensure we follow relevant regulations and industry standards.” [Update: Google spokesperson José Castañeda repeated Google’s prior statement to Ars, saying, “We are pleased to resolve this issue.”]
Paxton said that “if Google is going to advertise in Texas, their statements better be true.” He decided to take action to hold Google “accountable for lying to Texans for financial gain,” saying that large companies should not expect “special treatment under the law.”
“Texas will do whatever it takes to protect our citizens and our state economy from corporations’ false and misleading advertisements,” Paxton said.
It’s not the first time that Texas has clashed with Google. In 2020, Texas joined other states in filing a complaint against Google for allegedly “illegally maintaining monopolies in Internet search and search advertising services” in 2020. That complaint is ongoing, with Google this week filing a memo asking the court to deny states’ request to review select Google employees’ communications with its attorneys.
More recently, in 2022, Texas sued Google, “alleging that the tech giant has unlawfully captured and used the biometric data of millions of Texans without properly obtaining their informed consent to do so,” according to a press release. At that time, Paxton compared Google to a “modern Eye of Sauron.”