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Coupang Under Scrutiny Over Search Algorithms

A Coupang delivery truck. Shutterstock.
A Coupang delivery truck. Shutterstock.

The South Korean e-commerce giant is facing a probe over allegations it manipulated search algorithms to favour its own products over third party suppliers, sources with knowledge of the inquiry told the Financial Times.

The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) inspected the group’s Seoul headquarters last month on the back of claims regarding unfair business practices. Last year, the KFTC slapped a 26.7 billion won ($23.6 million) fine on the company’s rival Naver for interfering with search algorithms on its streaming and shopping platforms.

The investigation is just one of the ways rapidly growing Coupang — which after a record IPO in March started expanding globally by way of Japan — has come under fire in recent months. At the time of its IPO, the firm was already facing backlash regarding work-related illnesses and deaths at its offices and warehouses, which doubled from 2019 to 2020, including a fire in March that destroyed its largest logistics site and killed one employee. The firm has denied responsibility for the deaths.

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