Google has abused its power and monopoly over Internet search by deliberately blacklisting rival shopping sites, according to a leaked report by the US Federal Trade Commission.
Back in 2012, the Federal Trade Commission investigated the business practices of Google in order to try and determine whether its monopoly on Internet search was in breach of antitrust laws.
The report, a copy of which has been obtained by the Wall Street Journal, paints a pretty ugly and damaging picture of California based corporation, where it says that Google’s underhand tactics caused “real harm to consumers and to innovation.”
Prior to the conclusion of the report, staff at the FTC recommended a lawsuit against Google. However, it was the decision of FTC commissioners not to take any further action and the investigation into Google was eventually dropped.
The leaking of the report the Wall Street Journal is damning stuff and seems to justify some of the complaints made the likes of Yelp and other rival sites who have complained about Google’s tactics for years.
The report clearly details the staggering lengths Google went to in order ensure its monopoly of the Internet search market and to increase its hugely lucrative advertising wing of its business, which amounted to $59.06 billion in 2014.
Ordinarily, Google ranks a website based on a number of factors, such as the number of links pointing to that site, how much traffic the website in question receives, how long a user spends on the site and the usage of relevant keywords within the site.
According to the report, Google prioritised links to its own sites, even when services or products on rival sites may have actually been better suited to users.
For example, Google Local would often appear ahead of the likes of Yelp, even if Yelp provided the user with a more relevant search result.
The Wall Street Journal also says that content from Amazon.com and Trip Advisor was copied by Google, who then threatened both sites with removal from Google search results should they complain.
“It is clear that Google’s threat was intended to produce, and did produce, the desired effect, which was to coerce Yelp and TripAdvisor into backing down,” read the report.
The report in the Wall Street Journal also says that Google restricted websites working with competing search engines on ad content, a process which was at the say so of Google co founder Larry Page.
The FTC concluded that Google was “working toward an overall goal of maintaining its market share by providing the best user experience, while simultaneously engaging in tactics that resulted in harm to many vertical competitors, and likely helped to entrench Google’s monopoly power over search and search advertising.”
The FTC collected more than 9 million documents as part of the investigation which ended in 2013 after Google agreed to make changes to its business practices. Despite the recommendation of staff, Google did not face a lawsuit following the FTC investigation.
Source: Wall Street Journal
Jonathan is our Google Nexus and Android enthusiast. He is also fanatical about football which makes it all the more strange that he should support Stockport County. In addition to writing about tech, Jonathan has a passion for fitness and nutrition and has previously written for one the UK’s leading watch and horology websites.