Google’s Biggest News Moments From 2022Reading Time: 4 minutes
From privacy lawsuits to the end of YouTube Originals, Google has had a busy year.
Throughout 2022, we’ve seen Google go through several highs and lows. With legal suits, rumors, and big changes to certain services, it’s been quite a mixed bag of a year for the tech giant.
But which stories took the cake in 2022? What were Google’s top news moments this year? Let’s take a look.
1. The $400 Million Location Tracking Settlement
Some people don’t mind location tracking features, while others find them highly concerning. Either way, one should always know if or when a service is tracking their location.
In 2022, it was revealed that Google had been misleading users about how it tracked their location. Concerns about this stretch back to 2014, with accusations coming out in 2018. This led to various European countries, including Greece, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands, filing complaints against Google for its alleged deceptive location-tracking information.
But things didn’t stop there. Concerns soon arose in the US, which resulted in Google agreeing to pay a huge settlement of almost $400 million to 40 states for allegedly misleading users on location tracking. This settlement requires Google to be more forthcoming and transparent with users, including about its location tracking parameters, in 2023.
2. The UK Ads Revenue Lawsuit
In late 2022, it was revealed that over 130,000 UK businesses were suing Google over lost ad revenue, which allegedly amounted to £13.6 billion, or just under $17 billion.
This class action lawsuit sought damages for anti-competitive behavior and ‘market abuse’ on the part of Google, as said in a statement published by the Humphries Kersetter law firm, which is representing the allegedly affected UK businesses in this lawsuit along with Geradin Partners. In the same statement, it was written that some companies may have lost up to 40% of their ad revenue as a result of Google’s actions.
This lawsuit is yet to conclude, as it was only filed in late 2022. In 2023, we may see this suit progress, or even come to a completion. The jury’s still out on whether Google will have to pay this mammoth amount.
3. The End of YouTube Originals
In October 2006, when social media was still in its early days, Google announced that it had acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion. Sixteen years later, in January 2022, Google decided to shut down YouTube Originals.
As the name suggests, YouTube Originals focused on content entirely original to YouTube that had a higher production budget than your average video. These could be movies, TV shows, or even recorded Google events. YouTube Originals came about in 2016 and was only around for six years before Google pulled the plug.
It seems that Google did this so that it could focus on investing in other projects, such as the Black Voice Fund and Creator Shorts Fund. However, it was evident to the public that YouTube Originals shows, such as Cobra Kai, didn’t do as well as expected, which also may have played a role in Google’s decision to shut down this YouTube feature in 2022.
4. The Violation of Sonos Patents
Both Sonos and Google produce smart speaker products, such as the Sonos One SL and various Google Nest devices. But in 2020, these two companies clashed heads when Sonos filed a lawsuit against Google for allegedly violating its audio technology patents. Sonos claimed in this suit that Google was copying its audio technology in the development of its smart speakers.
In early 2022, the US International Trade Commission ruled that Google did indeed violate a total of five Sonos patents. But in August of the same year, Google hit Sonos back with its own lawsuit, claiming that Sonos had actually violated seven of Google’s patents, such as its voice assistant technology.
Google and Sonos have now been in a back-and-forth dispute for over two years. We may see who comes out as the true winner of these ongoing legal battles in 2023, or this may extend into further years if a conclusive verdict cannot be met.
5. A ‘Secret’ Facebook Deal
Google and Facebook (now known as Meta) are undoubtedly giants in the tech industry, with their combined worth coming to over a trillion dollars. But in early 2022, rumors began circulating about a possible secret deal existing between the two companies.
This deal was reportedly proposed to consolidate the online advertising market and was formed in 2018, with suspicions arising around its possible existence back in 2020. The CEO of Facebook, as it was then called, Mark Zuckerberg, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai allegedly formed the deal, though it was originally thought that the signature was solely provided by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
What was particularly controversial about this deal, dubbed ‘Jedi Blue’, is that it allegedly sought to benefit Google and Facebook in the online ad space by granting platform privileges to Facebook in Google’s ad-buying auctions. In return, Facebook was asked by Google to pull back in its ad competitiveness.
6. The FTC Pixel Lawsuit
In late 2022, it was revealed that the US Federal Trade Commission was suing Google and iHeartMedia Inc. for airing almost 30,000 deceptive endorsements for the Pixel 4. These endorsements contained the voices of radio hosts discussing their positive experiences with the Pixel 4 phone when in reality they had never used it.
Google settled the court charges with the FTC in late November 2022, agreeing to pay a substantial $9.4 million fine for this deceptive advertising scheme.
7. The $25B UK and Netherlands Lawsuits
In September 2022, it was reported by numerous news outlets that Google was facing a $25 billion fine via two separate lawsuits being filed in both the UK and Netherlands. The two suits alleged that Google took part in unfair or anti-competitive ad practices which negatively affected publishers.
While Google has criticized these lawsuits, it remains to be seen whether the tech giant will have to fork out this $25 billion in compensation in 2023.
Google Has Gone Through a Lot in 2022
There’s no doubt that Google has seen its fair share of trials and tribulations throughout 2022, with various lawsuits, rumors, and changes to services giving it plenty of reasons to be featured in the news. But Google is no stranger to legal disputes and criticism, so we may see more similar headlines in 2023.