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Google Faces EU Probe Over Doped Search Results

CmdrTaco posted more than 2 years ago | from the that-doesn't-sound-nice dept.

Google 193

Barence writes "The EU has launched an investigation into whether Google is deliberately doctoring its search results to favour its own services. The search giant stands accused of artificially lowering the search ranking of competing price-comparison sites in organic and paid-for search results, in favour of Google Shopping. 'There is a growing chasm between the enduring public perception of Google's search results as comprehensive and impartial, and the reality that they are increasingly neither,' said Shivaun Raff, CEO of British price comparison site Foundem, which lodged the complaint with the EU. Google has denied any foul play. 'Those sites have complained and even sued us over the years, but in all cases there were compelling reasons why their sites were ranked poorly by our algorithms,' it claims."

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193 comments

Isn't this... (2, Insightful)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387642)

...an old story? I'm pretty sure Google is on the line though.

Re:Isn't this... (1)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387668)

Re:Isn't this... (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387752)

oh, you mean the SEO/google competition guy who said he found a bias in google's results?

why is this even worth reposting (by slashdot and pcpro)?

Re:Isn't this... (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388932)

It's amazing Slashdot actually published that bullshit, and it's even sadder that people actually took it at face value.

Re:Isn't this... (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#34389328)

The real news that should make it to /. was that in some country (like France) Google was forced by justice to doctor its result in order to not make suggestion like "John Doe" -> "is a crook"

Re:Isn't this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34387694)

I'm pretty sure Google is on the line though.

Yes, I also have a feeling they have a clear conscience. As to the reason their own services are ranked high? Of all, surely Google knows how to optimize their pages for Googles page ranking algorithms!

Re:Isn't this... (3, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387794)

I'm pretty sure Google is on the line though.

Yes, I also have a feeling they have a clear conscience. As to the reason their own services are ranked high? Of all, surely Google knows how to optimize their pages for Googles page ranking algorithms!

If they really wanted to "do no evil" they would have a clean room team implement the SEO for their own services using only publicly published information. After all using some secret way to get to the top of the list has the same affect as building in a bias for your site.

Re:Isn't this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34388118)

The bs goes even deeper. He's complaining about Google's ads, clearly marked as such, at the top. Now whether it's legit for them to bid against other companies in a auction setting is another question.

Re:Isn't this... (2, Insightful)

pem (1013437) | more than 2 years ago | (#34389770)

No, if they really wanted to "do no evil" they would put a lot more people on combating bogus SEO.

I've never thought "man, there aren't enough content-void link farms in the top 10 results from google!"

Think how many man-hours are wasted all over the globe clicking on that crap.

I want google to remove spam from my web searches just like the remove spam from my email. Evil is not google. Evil is any government that tries to dissuade them from performing that valuable function in the name of "competition".

Re:Isn't this... (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388244)

As to the reason their own services are ranked high? Of all, surely Google knows how to optimize their pages for Googles page ranking algorithms!

You must have missed this article: Hard-coded Bias in Google Search Results [slashdot.org] .

Re:Isn't this... (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388950)

You must have missed that that article is 100% bullshit.

Re:Isn't this... (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 2 years ago | (#34389404)

I must indeed have missed that. Could you point me to some reputable source that is qualified to say so and actually does that? Thank you.

I shop online all the time (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34387672)

I shop online all of the time. I've never heard of this "foundem". Furthermore, the last two paragraphs are pretty telling:

Addressing Foundem's allegations specifically, Google said: "We built Google for users, not websites, and the nature of ranking is that some websites will be unhappy with where they rank. Those sites have complained and even sued us over the years, but in all cases there were compelling reasons why their sites were ranked poorly by our algorithms.

"For example, Foundem, one of the sites that has complained publicly and to the European Commission, duplicates 79% of its website content from other sites, and we have consistently informed webmasters that our algorithms disadvantage duplicate sites."

You're not ranked high because you're not relevant to the users' interest. 'Nuff said.

Yeah, but they're *European* (-1, Flamebait)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387908)

And Google is an evil AMERICAN company. Care to guess who's going to get the benefit of the doubt before the EU?

Re:Yeah, but they're *European* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34388000)

Yes, if it were to happen in America, regardless if they were innocent or not, they wouldn't have even made it into court. When was the last time a giant had to face charges for something like that in the US?

Re:Yeah, but they're *European* (2, Insightful)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388110)

This shouldn't even be an issue. Is there a law that says search engines must be impartial? This is their company and their algorithm. Who the fuck has the right to tell them if they want to optimize it to make all websites with the word google in them go up in rank?

If their search results stop giving useful and valid results someone else will build a new and better search engine. See the history of search engines as a reference.

Google is not a public utility, they are a for profit company.

Re:Yeah, but they're *European* (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34388798)

Because different rules apply to de facto monopolies?

Re:Yeah, but they're *European* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34388804)

This shouldn't even be an issue. Is there a law that says search engines must be impartial?

It seems so, as there is an inquiry. Maybe you have heard of anti-trust regulation...

Who the fuck has the right to tell them if they want to optimize it to make all websites with the word google in them go up in rank?

RTFS! But mainly the European Commission, and some others.

European Courts (1)

andersh (229403) | more than 2 years ago | (#34389568)

Oh, please, your ignorance is greater than mere words can describe. If you're an American your nationalist propaganda brainwashing has worked. Despite your own conceited beliefs the US is not an epitome of justice.

Despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that the EU and its institutions takes complaints and prosecutes, naturally, primarily European companies, ignorant people such as yourself that have no knowledge of the relevant history, law or geopolitics, wax eternally on about the few instances of American-owned European businesses that fell foul of European competition laws. Nevermind the realities of the cases, the clearly illegal conduct, and abuses of monopolies.

A complaint to the European Union and its courts will only be decided on its merits alone, we follow the law to the letter, with no regards to the nationality of the owner of the European entity in question (Google's European branches). The primary goal of the EU and its laws is to facilitate trade between and within the member nations of the European Union with specifically no bias or preference for companies, people or goods of any nation. The EU already has to be perfectly impartial to avoid favoring any entity from any European Union member state.

You have no idea what you are talking about and how crucial it is for the EU courts that cases such as these are decided purely on the basis of law(s), in the interest of consumers and unhindered trade. Where Americans talk about legal protections for trade they focus on corporations, while Europeans focus on the consumers rights.

Re:European Courts (0, Troll)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#34389652)

You are one naive motherfucker if you think that there is ANY body of humans in the world that decides ANYTHING "purely on the basis of law(s)" with no political or economic influence. Last time I checked, the EU had not achieved some utopia where courts are completely unbiased and objective and no corruption or political influence exists.

Sounds like YOU'RE the one who's bought into the propaganda.

Re:I shop online all the time (0, Troll)

whiteboy86 (1930018) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387996)

Foundem, one of the sites that has complained publicly and to the European Commission, duplicates 79% of its website content from other sites

Interesting to read this from entity like Google that copies or 'generates' like 90% of its content from other sites.

Re:I shop online all the time (1)

YttriumOxide (837412) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388126)

Foundem, one of the sites that has complained publicly and to the European Commission, duplicates 79% of its website content from other sites

Interesting to read this from entity like Google that copies or 'generates' like 90% of its content from other sites.

Ah yes, but when you search for "xyz widget", you don't get a hit to Google's search page for "xyz widget" - that would of course be recursively redundant and pointless, but my point is that the only time you'll get Google's own stuff on search results is when it actually is non-duplicate data they're showing.

Re:I shop online all the time (1)

ffreeloader (1105115) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388128)

It's a legal principle. You can't complain about someone else doing the same thing you're doing. It's called unclean hands and is a legitimate defense.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unclean_hands [wikipedia.org]

Re:I shop online all the time (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388314)

I think that your thinking on this particular subject is rather shallow. Spend a few minutes thinking about what you said and then you can come out of your room.

Re:I shop online all the time (2, Insightful)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388014)

You're not ranked high because you're not relevant to the users' interest. 'Nuff said.

And who gets to decide that, the competition or a neutral party?

Re:I shop online all the time (3, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388054)

And who gets to decide that, the competition or a neutral party?

A few billion neutral third parties have said that they like Google's appraisal just fine. If their results weren't so in line with what people want and expect, users would have gone with a different search engine.

Re:I shop online all the time (0, Troll)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388968)

And who gets to decide that, the competition or a neutral party?

A few billion neutral third parties have said that they like Google's appraisal just fine. If their results weren't so in line with what people want and expect, users would have gone with a different search engine.

That's the way things used to work, but not anymore. In the past, you had to go out and find a search engine. I remember we'd type in hotbot.com or Lycos, or AltaVista, and whatever else we could find and just see which one gave us more of what we were looking for. And at some point, Google was good enough that it became popular like this. But now that they've become dominant, they want to make sure nobody else wins the same way Google did. We are past the time where people go out and find their search engine. We are at a time where Google pays to be included in your web browser, on your desktop, in your phone, and in your workplace. Nobody even asks how to find what they're looking for, or ever gets given a list of addresses for search engines. And no, a dropdown list that nobody is aware of does not count as being given a list of search engine addresses.

To summarize, we're not all using Google because we evaluated all of our options and found them to be the best. We're all using Google because it was shoved down our throats and we have no idea there are other options out there.

Re:I shop online all the time (1)

tycoex (1832784) | more than 2 years ago | (#34389218)

If people have no idea where other options are they are retarded.

And don't most computer illiterate people use IE? Last time I used IE (to navigate to the chrome download page on a new computer) the default search engine in the bar was bing. Meaning people that didn't pay any attention to their search engine would actually be defaulting to bing, not google.

Re:I shop online all the time (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 2 years ago | (#34389680)

We're all using Google because it was shoved down our throats and we have no idea there are other options out there.

First, as tycoex mentions, Bing is the default search on a popular browser or two. Second, that ignorance is squarely on the shoulders of the other search companies who've failed to advertise. It's not Google's fault that Ask.com did a poor job of building brand awareness. And do you really mean that Microsoft is incapable of financing an ad campaign for Bing? (Whether it would be effective is another story, but the point is that they could try to make Bing popular if they really wanted to.)

Re:I shop online all the time (2, Interesting)

pem (1013437) | more than 2 years ago | (#34389688)

Which "we" are we talking about?

The slashdot "we" who implicitly know about other search engines?

The facebook/IM "we" who can transmit news of how well a search engine works instantaneously to other users?

The grandma "we" who just accepts what her grandson set up?

Your bullshit argument is that google got where they are by being good, but now they're abusing their position. Personally, I think you're confusing google with Microsoft, but if you could show, you know, some evidence that is more compelling than the whining of a bunch of bogus "search engine" firms that just repackage content in an ad-heavy environment, I would be interested in seeing that.

However, I wouldn't be interested at all in seeing google cater to those losers. I have never thought "man, google's results suck because they don't show me enough parasite link farm sites!" Quite the opposite -- whenever the link farms manage to game the system enough that they get ranked highly at google, I get pissed at google for not weeding their garden quickly enough.

Re:I shop online all the time (3, Insightful)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388372)

I use Google because I like their results. If you do not like their results do not use them. They are a company who makes profit by making shit simple for the user. The do not exist to make the web fair. Just usable. They do a damn good job of that. Governments have no right to even look into this. The search results are Googles OPINION!

As Mike Muir once sang while with Infectious Grooves ..... "I hate stupid people!"

Re:I shop online all the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34388050)

I shop online all of the time. I've never heard of this "foundem"

But now you have. Goal accomplished!

Re:I shop online all the time (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388570)

You're not ranked high because you're not relevant to the users' interest. 'Nuff said.

Read this first: Foundem's Google story [searchneutrality.org] - by the way, I had to use Yahoo to get this link (first hit for "google foundem story", nowhere in sight when using Google).
Regarding the duplicated content excuse Google is using: Foundem certainly contains product listings from other sites, but heavily modified (just like any price comparison site) and presented in a way that makes them differ enough, just like (or even more than) most news sites copying reuters press releases or blogs linking to other articles. You will find that this is also true for Google Products, which is strangely not suffering from "duplicated content" problems. Generally, many shops as well as shopping sites use identical product names and descriptions derived from distributors' info or companies like cnet content solutions [cnetcontentsolutions.com] , so it's just a poor excuse that shows Google's true colors...

Re:I shop online all the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34389034)

I shop online all of the time. I've never heard of this "foundem".

You just did :) Let's get real, this is just a publicity stunt!

Algorithm? (0)

symes (835608) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387684)

"Those sites have complained and even sued us over the years, but in all cases there were compelling reasons why their sites were ranked poorly by our algorithms,"

They didn't start with the letter G.

Re:Algorithm? (1)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387720)

Steve Jobs: "Damn! I ~knew~ we should have called our company 'Gapple' !"

Re:Algorithm? (1)

Maarx (1794262) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388300)

Steve Jobs: "Damn! I ~knew~ we should have called our company 'Gapple' !"

"It's an apple infused with Gallium" [xkcd.com]

Was bound to happen (2, Interesting)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387686)

I'm pretty sure any company would have turned towards that in the end. I think the problem will be proving it. Since google know pretty much how their ranking algorithm works - I'm pretty sure they can design a site which always turns up top - without needing to 'cheat'.

I'm not sure who's side I'm on this time. I mean, it'd be stupid if (say) you google something on Bing and you don't get the Microsoft solution first. I think it'd be weird if you look up "Shopping" and google shopping is at the bottom.

Re:Was bound to happen (3, Insightful)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387764)

I find your phrase 'google something on Bing' highly amusing - and very revealing of the actual market situation ; )

Re:Was bound to happen (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387810)

Try binging on Google sometimes.

Re:Was bound to happen (1)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387876)

That sounds painful.

Re:Was bound to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34388830)

Yeah, all you'd get was the pits....

Re:Was bound to happen (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387800)

>>>it'd be stupid if (say) you search something on Bing, and you don't get the Microsoft solution first

What search alternatives exist to the near-monopoly Google and Microsoft's Bing?

Re:Was bound to happen (1)

DanCentury (110562) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387912)

There's blekko http://blekko.com/

Re:Was bound to happen (1)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387954)

Hm - I'm getting tired of how the word 'Monopoly' is (ab)used sometimes:

Majority != Monopoly.
Best Product != Monopoly.
Most Used != Monopoly.

And to answer your question: Yahoo, Windows Live and Baidu are within the world's top ten most-visited websites.

Re:Was bound to happen (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388072)

>>>Majority != Monopoly.

I said "near" monopoly and 80% or higher certainly qualifies. In the U.S. 80% is high enough to amend the highest law of the land - the constitution. 80% was high enough to break-up Standard Oil and ATT.

Anyway I'm sold - http://blekko.com/ws/+/press-videos?h=1 [blekko.com]
I used to use metacrawler which was once a decent engine
"Windows Live" is different from Bing?

Use your Google-fu (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388370)

> What search alternatives exist to the near-monopoly Google and Microsoft's Bing?

Just search for "search engine" in Google and look at the results. Whether any of the competition is good enough or better? That only you can decide.

Re:Was bound to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34388464)

Google doesn't need to doctor their ranking algorithm. If it detects a certain query pattern, it can toplist their own embedded services, separate from the search results, in a span tag named topstuff.

Some people may find this questionable however. It's page manipulation (to be more helpful), although not strictly result manipulation. Manipulating the result ordering would be a dangerous tactic, quite deceitful and would basically shatter all trust in Google as a company. But AFAIK, none of these complaints have been convincing so far.

Hope Google wins, for the sake of useful results. (5, Insightful)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387698)

I really hope Google wins this one. Google search results are spammed with enough useless "price comparison" and "vertical search" sites as it is, their results really don't need any more - especially not forced upon them by Google. It's reached the point where it's very difficult to find actual reviews for certain products or sites selling them via Googling already, because the "vertical search" sites don't care about actually providing good information. (If you read Google's response [bbc.co.uk] , the reason the company complaining got automatically downranked is because nearly all their content was duplicated - like many such sites, they offered absolutely nothing useful and were just sponging off their ability to draw people in by getting as high in the Google results as possible.)

Re:Hope Google wins, for the sake of useful result (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387890)

Forced upon them by the EU, even.

Re:Hope Google wins, for the sake of useful result (3, Interesting)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387902)

Agreed - these price-comparison sites are almost universally leeches. They provide no added content, the contents are often out-of-date, and you can get the same functionality by just clicking on individual links in Google. I wish they would all go away. That said, I have never seen Google shopping come up in the results of a search for a product. I am always skipping over spammed results from other price comparison sites - not to mention eBay (I hate eBay). If Google is cheating, they surely are doing a lousy job of it :-)

According to one article, Foundem is a case study in SEO fail [econsultancy.com] . Perhaps it's easier to sue than to fix your business concept.

Re:Hope Google wins, for the sake of useful result (1)

Shimbo (100005) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388016)

Agreed - these price-comparison sites are almost universally leeches. They provide no added content, the contents are often out-of-date, and you can get the same functionality by just clicking on individual links in Google.

There are some useful ones: e.g. car insurance, electricity and ISP comparison sites. However, they generally spend a lot of money on advertising, so you go to them direct. They aren't lame sites that think Google owes them a living.

Re:Hope Google wins, for the sake of useful result (-1, Troll)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388442)

They are progressives.

And if their government is not going to just make them happy then it is up to those "Evil Bastards" that have more than them to cough up some free happiness for them.

Problem is things that are given to you do not make you feel worthy. Lack of self worth makes one unhappy, therefore they need more free stuff to feel happy.

I actually WISH Google did this (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388176)

As an avid user of Google Shopper (http://froogle.google.com), I honestly wish Google integrated it's results into searches for products. Being able to price compare *and* read reviews on one single page of results would be excellent.

Re:Hope Google wins, for the sake of useful result (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388196)

Foundem is a case study in SEO fail

Sorry to say, but that article was written by a clueless moron who just argues that any price comparison site must fail at SEO, which a) is obviously wrong and b) would mean that Google Products would also never warrant a top position since all its content is as problematic as the author wants to make us believe Foundem's is.

Re:Hope Google wins, for the sake of useful result (2, Interesting)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#34389686)

Sorry to say, but that article was written by a clueless moron who just argues that any price comparison site must fail at SEO, which a) is obviously wrong and b) would mean that Google Products would also never warrant a top position since all its content is as problematic as the author wants to make us believe Foundem's is.

Google Products is actually much better. Compare this Foundem search [foundem.co.uk] and the per-product pages [foundem.co.uk] with Google Product [google.co.uk] and its per-product pages [google.co.uk] . The Google pages offer more useful information up-front, avoid redundant duplication, and are generally better designed.

Even this probably wouldn't warrant a top position for Google Products on most searches, and it doesn't generally get one. What Google does is use it to supplement its search results - if you make a search where Google thinks the Products search results are useful [google.co.uk] , it displays them as well as the generic web search results. This makes sense - Google wants to offer the best web search results it can, and sometimes that means presenting them in the Google Product format.

Note that Bing does exactly the same thing [bing.com] with ciao.co.uk, which Microsoft also owns and which was one of the other complainants. Except that Microsoft totally screwed this up - the ciao.co.uk pages [ciao.co.uk] lack useful information like prices and website names, making them less useful than generic internet search!

It's no wonder that Bing and ciao.co.uk have a much smaller marketshare than Google - they're useless.

Yawn (3, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387708)

"There is a growing chasm between the enduring public perception of Google's search results as comprehensive and impartial...

Impartiality Checklist
[ ] Do they make money doing it?
[ ] Do they support a political candidate, viewpoint, or party?
[ ] Is what they're doing taxable?
[ ] Do they claim to know the truth, as opposed to still searching for it?

Note: If you checked any of the boxes, you can be certain they are not impartial.

Re:Yawn (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 2 years ago | (#34389260)

In all fairness, Google does make money by prioritizing their shopping site over other comparison sites. While they don't have AdSense on the shopping site, it does enhance brand.

Usually, I get the google comparison as the third "non-paid" result. That is about right most of the time. Sure beats getting Nextag or Ebay results, although I do sometimes miss the more obscure ones.

Sites that don't add value shouldn't be ranked highly. That added value might be subjective and have various conflicts of interest, but cases like this are pretty clear in my book.

I want to move to the EU (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387716)

Anti-corporation sounds like a sound government policy to me. Or is it just anti-american corporations (microsoft, oracle, google) and pro-europe (opera). Hard to tell?

Now if the EU can just stop the Euro from collapsing, it would be pretty close to paradise. "Where liberty lives, there is my country." - Ben Franklin

Re:I want to move to the EU (2, Informative)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387746)

I've heard the "Pro-europe" argument once or twice. The best response I found is that Opera is Norwegian which isn't in the EU.

Re:I want to move to the EU (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387844)

Interesting. Is part of the EEA still though.

I actually find it hard to see the EU being internally organised in the right way to have a consistent opinion on the matter. individual countries - certainly. A businessman has lunch with a high ranking MP who promises to mention it to the justice minister. The groups in the EU aren't quite so close knit.

EEA - Of No Consequence (1)

andersh (229403) | more than 2 years ago | (#34389668)

Yes, Norway is a part of the European Economic Area, the inner market of the EU, due to the Free Trade Agreement between our nations. However we are very much not members of the EU, strongly opposed in fact, and we have no influence, representation, power or voting rights. We also pay dearly for access to the EU's market to the number of millions of Euros each year.

The fact that Opera and Mozilla's complaints were taken into consideration was purely a matter of law.

Re:I want to move to the EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34387830)

They seem to be pretty good about supporting banks that make risky loans.

American Hypocrisy (1)

andersh (229403) | more than 2 years ago | (#34389692)

Yes, it's much better to bail out the HUGE banks and financial institutions that screwed up your financial system in the first place. Nevermind the 200 minor American banks that have had to close...

Re:I want to move to the EU (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387856)

Most of such investigations, fines levied, etc. are against European companies...

And from the looks of this one, they simply have to start an investigation when receiving a proper formal compliant. It might very well not go anywhere afterwards.

impartial? (1)

Odinlake (1057938) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387738)

I thought you paid to be listed first... what's impartial about it to begin with?

Re:impartial? (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387788)

As far as I know, you pay for the "Sponsored Rankings" on the side, but not for the actual position.

Re:impartial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34387886)

You pay more for position #1. It's a silent auction of sorts. If 4 people bid, they are given spots 1,2,3,4 in order of how much they bid. If people 1,2,3 didn't bid next month person 4 with the same amount bid last month would suddenly get spot #1.

Re:impartial? (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387798)

What does Bing do?

for example ranking top 10 songs (1)

slmdmd (769525) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387748)

Help me understand here - Is not this like saying, If I provide top10 song rankings and I put Spice girls song at no.2. EU does not like that and sues me to put her song at no 1.

Re:for example ranking top 10 songs (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387804)

No no.

Its like saying you providing top 10 song rankings, and you put bands which have a contract with your company first always.

I can't think of a car analogy.

Re:for example ranking top 10 songs (1)

slmdmd (769525) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387918)

Am I not free to do that, Say I am s0ny and I provide top 10 ranking and 8 on the list are produced by s0ny. If people don't like it then they are free to go to 3ftv rankings where only 2 of s0ny's songs are in the top 10 list.

Re:for example ranking top 10 songs (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388112)

There are two large problems with that.

One it sets a standard. What's to stop [otherSearchEngine] to not put [otherSearchEngine]shopping first? You'll arrive at the point where (to continue your analogy) - all the media houses have their own top 10 list, dominated by their own songs.

Secondly, Google is the biggest and most popular - so any plan which involves "People are free to not use it" will fail miserably.

Re:for example ranking top 10 songs (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388896)

That would be AWESOME. Then I could make my own song search engine and put the songs I think are best on the list. Wait. That is what Google dose. Of course it seems that ALOT of people think that Googles opinion on these things is well researched and gets them to where they want to be faster.

Fucking bastards. Running and opinion site where we go to get their opinion on where the information we seek is. I for one think that the EU needs to come down hard on Google and force them to have the Governments opinion on everything. If they don't the next thing you know people might think that their opinions can differ from the official opinion. And ... In my official government sanctioned opinion...We can't have that.

Oh. On a side note. You are stupid.

Re:for example ranking top 10 songs (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388474)

Depends. If you claim they're the top-10 most downloaded music overall and it isn't, it's essentially fraud.

Car analogy: just because there are multiple car sellers, you can't sell a V6 and claim it's a V8.

Re:for example ranking top 10 songs (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388138)

What is wrong with that? It's my company, my list, and my algorithm / opinion. If you don't like it, start your own search engine company and compete.

Re:for example ranking top 10 songs (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388488)

The point isn't that you can't choose your algorithm, is that you can't _claim_ all your results follow certain algorithm when in fact they don't. That would be fraudulent.

Re:for example ranking top 10 songs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34389008)

Firstly, they haven't done that. Secondly, that wouldn't fit under any legal definitions of fraud. No one has signed an agreement with Google over search neutrality, or for that matter has paid them at all - search listings are provided completely autonomously and freely. Claiming fraud over Google ranking adjustment is just as silly as claiming fraud over Wikipedia having rejected my edits.

Re:for example ranking top 10 songs (1)

IAmGarethAdams (990037) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388550)

With blackjack! And hookers! In fact, forget the search engine!

Re:for example ranking top 10 songs (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387870)

Help me understand here - Is not this like saying, If I provide top10 song rankings and I put Spice girls song at no.2. EU does not like that and sues me to put her song at no 1.

No with 'foundem' its more like the top ten ranking included lots of well-known artists but not a recording your sister made at some backstreet recording studio that she sells round the neighbourhood. You complain to the EU who sues google to have your sister's video put in the top ten.

(If you are the brother of one of the Spice Girls please ignore this comment)

Re:for example ranking top 10 songs (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387894)

Actually, it's more like saying "I've compiled a listing of what other people on the Internet (who themselves are often respected by visitors for being "relevant" to musical top 10) think should be in the Top 10" and then being told off because one of your own songs is in that list.

Re:for example ranking top 10 songs (1)

weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388108)

No it's more like getting in your car and driving to McDonalds and complaining that the Big Mac is not on the value menu.

Re:for example ranking top 10 songs (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388620)

No. I have my own listing of lists of top 10 songs, and I want you to put that at no.1 rather than an actual song.

Waah (1)

bckspc (172870) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387826)

I'm all in favor of impartial media, but is there some law in the EU that requires search engines to show impartial rankings?

Re:Waah (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387860)

Nope. But it could be seen as anticompetitive. There doesn't have to be a specific written law against everything imaginable - a lot of laws are generic enough that they can be extended by case law etc. to actually incorporate lots of "new" things.

Re:Waah (1)

cob666 (656740) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388098)

Of course it might be CONSIDERED anti-competitive but I believe that a publicly traded company has a fiduciary responsibility to it's shareholders. Google should just display a disclaimer that it's search results are in no way meant to be completely free of bias and that in some cases Google sponsored or affiliated sites will be closer to the top of the listing. But, that would mess with the sterile look of the initial search page. I personally have no problem with Google showing sites that it has interest in closer to the top of the listing and have ALWAYS worked under the assumption that that was the case. Thinking any other way is naive.

Perhaps Google should announce a new policy that prohibits ANY page listings for companies that they are currently in litigation with. Again, I see no reason why Google should be told that they CAN'T do this, as long as they treat every other company the same.

European Consumer Protections (1)

andersh (229403) | more than 2 years ago | (#34389816)

With Great Power Comes Great Responsiblity.

The key complaint is that Google has now become so powerful and leading that consumers believe and trust it. The reality is that Google now has such a huge impact that it is starting to effect markets, and businesses, as such it is in the interest of European consumers that the company be regulated.

We have a number of consumer protection laws that most Americans have not heard of, such as requiring that all products sold with subscriptions must include the full and total price including all fees and such.

As always, follow the money... (5, Informative)

dclozier (1002772) | more than 2 years ago | (#34387850)

Ciao was bought by Microsoft in 2008 for nearly $500m (£324m) and is now called Ciao Bing, after Microsoft’s search engine. Foundem is a member of ICOMP, an internet pressure group which receives funding from Microsoft.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/7301299/Google-under-investigation-for-alleged-breach-of-EU-competition-rules.html [telegraph.co.uk]

This is just more of the same from Microsoft when trying to compete.

Re:As always, follow the money... (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 2 years ago | (#34389352)

That's a pretty weak link. I belong to an organization that Microsoft gives money to as well. It's called IEEE. Does that mean I shouldn't use IEEE-1000?

Google's problem here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34389614)

"Success breeds enemies" & that "trite saying" tends to summarize it imo.

Now that GOOGLE's doing so well, it only stands to reason that they'll be taken to court over "every little thing" because a LOT of big companies often "settle" whether they're right OR wrong (to avoid big court preceedings that get "dragged out" & cost TONS in legal fees (whether the attorneys or fleet of them even is on retainer, or not - there are costs above & beyond attorneys in courts of law is why I state that)).

E.G.-> Look at how McDonald's (iirc, it was Mickey D's) "laid down like a dog" on that lawsuit where the woman allegedly spilled supposedly SCALDING HOT COFFEE on her lap & burnt herself... hey, SHE did the spilling, but she STILL GOT PAID LARGE!

(That? That made NO sense to me, but McD's laid down like a dog & paid her... no fight @ all!)

APK

P.S.=> I mean, hey: The SAME STUFF happens to Microsoft too. Their success breeds enemies, and I had to side with Bill Gates when I saw him on T.V. in a speech he gave to the courts, which went along the lines of this regarding the antitrust suits they faced (etc.):

"I welcome Microsoft's competition, and especially if they can 'build a better mousetrap'"

Which is what competition is, all about, after all... MS wouldn't be "on top" if their stuff outright stunk & didn't work, after all. If MacOS X or Linux (or whatever) can do whatever MS does for better & cheaper, it ought to be winning & the most used (but for now, it's still not)... apk

Lack of respect for private property (0)

noidentity (188756) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388026)

Why does Google have to do its search a certain way? It's provided with its own servers, so they can do whatever the hell they want. I guess Google needs to put a big disclaimer on their site, "This site's results are biased in favor of providing useful results for users, not your website. Get over it."

But is there a "right" to impartiality? (0)

Halo- (175936) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388056)

I'm not in favor of Google "weighting" their search results in favor of their own interests; however, where does it say they have to be impartial? A search engine is fundamentally a "weighting" engine, and what makes (made?) Google more successful is that the public (in general) agreed more with their method of weighting results and with other engines. If the quality of the results (as perceived by the users) falls off, then other search engines will become more popular.

Re:But is there a "right" to impartiality? (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388280)

As always in cases like this or similar to this:

1. The majority don't care
2. The majority are stupid
3. The few people who care, don't matter numerical-wise
4. Biggest companies set the standard
5. People are used to [large company]
6. If you don't use [large company] - you will get flak when something goes wrong.

See also: Microsoft, IE6, Windows Vista...

Likely outcome (2, Informative)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388256)

1) Google makes it explicitly clear that its services are being pushed to the top of the results - say a section labeled "Google services" on an off-white background, much like it does with sponsored results.

2) End users aren't bothered by this in the least, and Google profits go up another notch.

.

Re:Likely outcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34389126)

They aren't being pushed to the top; in fact, if you read the HTML text, those 'special' results are entirely different from the ranked results (different db query) and aren't being mixed with them at all -- it's only the presentation that sometimes makes them look similar (although never identical... the Google top-results always have additional inlined functionality).

Of course the results aren't impartial (0)

Braedley (887013) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388322)

If Google has a product that the user is searching for, you don't have to be a genius to realize that they're going to promote it in their search results. Is it anti-competitive? Probably. Does it make good business sense? Definitely. Is it a little bit evil? Maybe. I think the crux of the situation is that they're not demoting competing products (a search for "map quest" returns mapquest.com as the top result, Google maps is just above the wikipedia entry), but rather promoting their own products.

Now to fully address Foundem's complaint, a did a search for "shopping" on google.co.uk, which according to Mr.Raff, should place Foundem high in the results. The usual suspects were returned, most of them .co.uk versions of popular websites. Google's own shopping site wasn't on the first page, but rather the second, and Foundem was nowhere to be seen. Did Google demote Foundem out of anti-competitive desires? I think the more likely answer is that Google promoted their shopping site above what would (I suspect) be a normal page three or four result.

I'm with google but... (0)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388348)

Couldn't their algorithm say something like IF name contains Google AND rank is no less than or equal to 5 THEN add one relevancy point?

But seriously a site no one has ever heard of is suing a giant company with lots of money? Jealous much?

Web directories (2, Interesting)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388656)

It's a pity web directories such as the Open Directory Project [dmoz.org] have fallen by the wayside in the mind of the general public. (Alexa ranks dmoz at No. 460.) If a web directory had the same personal investment end users worldwide give Wikipedia it could provide a useful alternative to algorithm-based search engines. Although Wikipedia already is a web directory of sorts, with links to relevant sites at the end of articles, as well as numerous "list of" articles [wikipedia.org] pointing to sites you might never encounter searching through Google.

.

Re:Web directories (1)

hey (83763) | more than 2 years ago | (#34389014)

I agree. I still like dmoz.

page rank of *.google.com (1)

hey (83763) | more than 2 years ago | (#34388978)

You'd think the page rank of and *.google.com domain would have a pretty good page rank. Lots of links to it.

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