Spain’s anti-trust agency CNMC on Wednesday cleared Amazon, Booking Holdings and Tripadvisor of participating in or facilitating fake reviews on their websites.
CNMC had been investigating a complaint filed by the OCU, a prominent consumer organization in Spain.
“CNMC found no indication that the platforms have participated in or facilitated the publication of these false opinions,” the authority said in a statement, noting the aforementioned companies had collaborated with investigators.
However, the watchdog has sent the complaint to a consumer rights authority due to a possible violation of consumer protection regulations.
Amazon, Booking, and Tripadvisor — as well as Expedia Group, Glassdoor and Trustpilot — announced in October they were launching a group named Coalition for Trusted Reviews that would fight fake online reviews.
The airline Ryanair and travel guide publisher Lonely Planet are taking part in a new $100 million program by Amazon Web Services to explore innovations in generative AI.
AWS announced the Generative AI Innovation Center on Thursday with four partners, which also include sales tech company Highspot and communications platform Twilio.
AWS said it is starting the program to connect its own AI and machine learning experts with client business to help them develop new generative AI products, services, and processes.
Chris Whyde, senior vice president of engineering and data science at Lonely Planet, said in a statement that — a common goal among companies looking to use generative AI for travel planning.
“We are always looking for ways to tap into new technology and meet the demands of today’s travelers,” Whyde stated. “The AWS Generative AI Innovation Center, paired with expert-driven advice and Lonely Planet’s award-winning content, will enable us to provide more personalized travel recommendations, making travel more accessible for those around the world.”
The program will operate through workshops and other engagements to help AWS customers throughout the process of designing the best generative AI models for their businesses and implementing them at scale, the company said.
“The Generative AI Innovation Center is part of our goal to help every organization leverage AI by providing flexible and cost-effective generative AI services for the enterprise, alongside our team of generative AI experts to take advantage of all this new technology has to offer,” Matt Garman, senior vice president of sales, marketing, and global services at AWS, state in a statement. “Together with our global community of partners, we’re working with business leaders across every industry to help them maximize the impact of generative AI in their organizations, creating value for their customers, employees, and bottom line.”
Airbnb announced Friday that it selected Jay Carney, most recently head of corporate affairs at Amazon and a former White House press secretary with ties to President Joe Biden, to replace Chris Lehane as global head of policy and communications.
Lehane, known for his hardball tactics in running campaigns opposing tougher municipal and state regulation of Airbnb, left Airbnb months ago, and joined a crypto fund. Lehane has many political jobs on his resume, including serving as press secretary for then-Vice President Al Gore from 1994-2000.
Carney has ties to President Joe Biden, having served as his director of communications when Biden was vice president. A former journalist, Carney was White House press secretary under Obama from 2011-2014.
Carney, who will begin his role at Airbnb in September, will be part of Airbnb’s executive team and will “work with co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky to ensure that as Airbnb grows, we strengthen the communities we are in.”
In a statement, Chesky said Carney is adept at community engagement “and is committed to ensuring that Airbnb is a force for good.”
Airbnb’s impact on communities can be multifaceted. On the one hand, it generates revenue for local businesses, including hosts, and makes travel affordable for many who otherwise wouldn’t be able to vacation in such fashion.
On the regulatory front, Airbnb faces an outcry in many communities around the world that it is hurting the quality of life, and contributing to a housing crisis as long-term rental properties get taken off the market, and turned into short-term rentals for tourists.
“The potential for travel to promote economic and social good has never been greater,” Carney said of his Airbnb appointment in a statement. “I’m thrilled to be joining Airbnb to help guide its work to connect communities and people through travel, drive economic participation, and help us discover that while our differences are real, they are overwhelmed by our similarities.”
Carney is a board member of Urban Institute, which Airbnb said works on issues such as affordable housing, racism and healthcare matters.