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Leaked FTC report describes how Google abused its search monopoly and got away with it

By Jos ยท 6 replies
Mar 20, 2015
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  1. Back in 2013, the FTC wrapped up a two-year investigation into Google’s online monopoly power, from which the search giant got away relatively unscathed with a series of “voluntary” measures. But recently uncovered documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal reveal that key members of the FTC did want to bring antitrust charges against Google, saying it abused its power and harmed consumer choice. The agency's commissioners nevertheless ended up voting unanimously to end the investigation after Google’s changes.

    Then-FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz said that by making some changes to its practices, Google offered “more relief for American consumers faster than any other option.” FTC's economics bureau also recommended against a lawsuit.

    The probe was originally launched due to allegations that Google was lifting content from sites like Yelp, Amazon and TripAdvisor to improve its own services, and then placing those above the competition in search results. The FTC investigation was able to corroborate this, and also found that when competitors asked Google to stop scraping their content, they were threatened with removal from search rankings. Don’t be evil, right?

    Among the changes that Google implemented to avoid being fined by the FTC is letting websites like Yelp or TripAdvisor opt-out from having snippets of their content appear in the company’s search results.

    The revelations could prompt new complaints from rivals who allege the company still engages in anticompetitive behavior, and comes at a time antitrust authorities in Europe are conducting their own probe on Google’s practices.

    Permalink to story.

  2. wastedkill

    wastedkill TS Evangelist Posts: 1,423   +350

    So basically the FTC wants google to start going "Hey you know our website your using... well go use yahoo instead its a competitor but hey were gonna recommend it"

    I just dont see the mentality in what the FTC is doing at all... its like if you own a product you have to now put competitors before yours? well screw that if I owned google I'd be telling them to go F themselves.

    If you want me to put competitors products first when its my company and I make the rules then why dont you just pay me? they aren't asking microsoft to already have installed google chrome, netscape, flash, ask.com on the internet explorer search options.

    So why are they trying to force google to let the FTC control it? are they going to ask apple for control rights next???
    Hexic and lipe123 like this.
  3. lipe123

    lipe123 TS Evangelist Posts: 718   +236

    Glad I'm not the only one that thinks this whole "story" thats trending all over now is total BS.
    It's their product and they can do with it what they want, no one is forced to use it.

    Try going to a Ford garage and ask them to give you a recommendation for a nice Toyota, then call the FTC if they refuse to help or point you to something bad.
    cmbjive and wastedkill like this.
  4. cmbjive

    cmbjive TS Booster Posts: 777   +138

    Whoever wrote the headline for this article needs to look up the definition of monopoly. Google doesn't fit because it ain't charging anyone for its service and on top of that there are different search engines available for use.
  5. vernonlvincent

    vernonlvincent TS Rookie

    Actually, this is exactly what they did to Microsoft in the European Union with Internet Explorer. There was a browser selection screen that specifically gave users the option to install a competing browser. In the US, we simply called them a monopoly - and those sanctions only recently lifted completely. Talk about reasons for a lost decade at Microsoft.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2015
    SNGX1275 and gamoniac like this.
  6. gamoniac

    gamoniac TS Guru Posts: 305   +71

    Exactly what I was thinking. It has to do with the how monopoly power is used when a company becomes such a formidable force in a market. Whether you agree with it, this is done to protect consumers. Otherwise, many smaller companies would go belly up every time Google flexes its muscles.
  7. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,199   +1,871

    The only fault I can find with Google is their manipulation of search results. Their business practices, while a bit shady, is what users voluntarily submit themselves to by using the service, which is, frankly the same with the search results but there is something very slimy in telling users all their great philosophy's, only to trick them. That certainly might be seen by a court of law as simple bait & switch .... so give them their $500 fine and be gone!

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