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• The San Jose Mercury News reports that European Union antitrust regulators are conducting an informal - so far - inquiry into “how the online retailer is treating smaller rivals trading on its own website … the EU is checking how Amazon gathers information on sales made by competitors on Amazon Marketplace and whether that gives it an edge when it sells to customers.”

The story says that “the power of online giants that provide a platform to other businesses has attracted fierce criticism on both sides of the Atlantic and prompted EU draft rules to ensure platforms behave fairly. Google was ordered last year to offer equal treatment to smaller search rivals for ads it shows on top of its results.”

And, the News writes, “The EU is separately pushing ahead with new legislation that aims to prevent web firms from offering unfair terms to small businesses that sell or promote their services on the platforms. Under the new rules, platforms would also have to provide more transparency about how they rank businesses in search results.”

CNBC reports that Amazon is testing out a new online service called Scout that is designed for “for consumers who don't know specifically what they want but are willing to take some automated recommendations.” The site “asks shoppers to like or dislike a product (thumbs up or thumbs down) and responds by showing other products based on their choices.” Scout currently is “available for home furniture, kitchen and dining products, women's shoes, home decor, patio furniture, lighting and bedding,” the story says, with more categories to come.

The CNBC story says that “Amazon is using machine learning technology to address one of the perpetual criticisms of the site — that it's a great place to buy things but a lousy place to browse. While Amazon is by far the largest U.S. e-commerce company, it's left the door open for e-retailers like Stitch Fix and Bonobos to provide a more personalized experience and given Instagram and Pinterest more room to use their vast amounts of data in turning their social networks into fledgling commerce sites.”

Axios reports that “Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma says his company no longer plans to help the US economy add one million jobs, which is something he had promised President Trump during a meeting in early 2017.”

The story notes that “Ma never claimed Alibaba would hire a million Americans. Instead, he wanted to help increase trade with Asia, thus enabling US small businesses to hire more people.”

Axios writes that even that commitment is seen as void in view of current trade tensions between the US and China.
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