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FTC Expands Its Google Antitrust Investigations

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the let-the-wrist-slapping-commence dept.

Google 137

New submitter smithz writes "Bloomberg is reporting that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is expanding its antitrust probe of Google Inc. to include scrutiny of its new Google+ social networking service. Google this week introduced changes to its search engine so that results feature photos, news and comments from Google+. The changes sparked a backlash from bloggers, privacy groups and competitors who said the inclusion of Google+ results unfairly promotes the company's products over other information on the Web. Before expanding the probe, FTC was already investigating Google for giving preference to its own services in search results and whether that practice violates antitrust laws. The agency is also examining whether the company is using its control of the Android mobile operating system to discourage smartphone makers from using rivals' applications. Google is facing similar investigations in Europe and South Korea."

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137 comments

Completely unsurprising (0)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700384)

This is the very consequence many people imagined the moment Google announced this. For clear examples of how Search Plus pushes Google+ over relevant results, read this article by Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineLand [searchengineland.com]. Some of the examples include popular music artists, like Katy Perry, who has one of the most popular Facebook pages but doesn't appear in the Search Plus results because she doesn't have a Google+ account. How is that delivering the most relevant results, which was the original goal of the Google search engine? In fact, Google's search engine is becoming less useful [readwriteweb.com] at delivering relevant results compared to alternatives, with the major example in that link being a search for "gold price" on Google versus Wolfram Alpha: Google gives you a big, brown box of sponsored links [netdna-cdn.com], while Wolfram Alpha gives you a simple price chart [netdna-cdn.com].

The biggest reason, in my opinion, to dislike Search Plus is that it continues the trend of search engine bubbling [dontbubble.us] that is filtering the content you see on the Internet today, possibly limiting you from seeing opposing information that might change a currently held perspective.

Re:Completely unsurprising (3, Insightful)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700446)

...Katy Perry, who has one of the most popular Facebook pages but doesn't appear in the Search Plus results because she doesn't have a Google+ account.

What's the compliant? You want the search results to display a link to her Google+ account that doesn't exist? You want her uncrawlable facebook page to come up in the search results? You want people who do have Google+ accounts not to have that page show up in the search results?

Re:Completely unsurprising (2)

smithz (2552942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700460)

I just checked and Katy Perry's facebook profile is indexable. In fact you can find it if you write "katy perry facebook", but it's nowhere to find if you just search for her name.

Re:Completely unsurprising (2, Interesting)

ilguido (1704434) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700674)

Probably because those searching for "Katy Perry" on Google are not looking for her facebook profile and never click on it. I mean, If I'm a facebook registered user and I'm looking for her facebook profile, I'd search Katy Perry on facebook, not on Google; and if I'm not a facebook user I can't see the point of searching for her facebook profile...
It doesn't seem a big deal.

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

smithz (2552942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700686)

It's a big deal because Google is promoting her Google+ page, while not Facebook's. That's the whole issue.

Re:Completely unsurprising (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38700744)

Why is that an issue? You want her facebook page, search on facebook. You want her google+ page, search on google (which, by the way, will also get you to her facebook page if you want just by putting facebook in the query).

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

smithz (2552942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700782)

Because it's Google promoting their own services over competitors and in some cases leveraging their monopoly position to illegally enter other markets. That warrants FTC investigation and sanctions.

Re:Completely unsurprising (3, Insightful)

anonymov (1768712) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700844)

As far as I can tell, you've got to opt-in in this "Google promoting their own services" as it doesn't work this way for me, so no sell.

Without opting in, for katy+perry you get Katy Perry's official website as first result, no Google+ or Facebook, though it finds twitter and myspace among other results.

Searching katy+perry+facebook gives you facebook page as top result.

But what's funny, earching for katy+perry+google+plus gives peekyou.com as top result and plus.google.com as second, kinda like google demoting their own services.

Re:Completely unsurprising (4, Interesting)

leoplan2 (2064520) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700858)

by using your logic, MS should be investigated too, they are pushing IE9, Windows, etc on their Hotmail page, and nobody complains. And Hotmail still is a dominant force. Twitter said NO for using their data on Google. Facebook data is not open for Google. So, how do you expect Google Search+ to use others data? And all that illegaly enter other markets BS is just FUD. You should inform yourself before commenting.

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701036)

On the first chart I found Hotmail only has a 20% plus share among the big email providers. Yahoo is the only one close to dominate with a little over 50% and I doubt that qualifies as a monopoly.

We are talking here about abuse of a monopoly position in search which I think Google has. Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly in email services.

As long as you dont have a monopoly position you can tie and promote your own products all you want. Microsoft might get in trouble if they aggressively promoted Bing or Hotmail through their Windows OS monopoly though that monopoly is in decline with the rise of smartphones and tablets.

Re:Completely unsurprising (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701140)

Google's US market share is 66%. You seem to draw a pretty large change in conclusions going from 50% to 66%.

Also, Facebook is aligned with Microsoft, which powers 30% of all internet searches (Bing + Yahoo). I hardly thing 66% is enough to harm users who have a 30% competitor as an alternative. The bolding is there to remind folks that anti-monopoly enforcement is only there to protect consumers, not to protect companies who are expected to be competing.

Apple's 82% share of tables and 76% share of the music player market must really bother you, right?

Re:Completely unsurprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701076)

I see the move as just a natural extension of their services and I'm sure they do as well. They have information that people may want to search through, so they allowed people to search through it.

Relevance hasn't been the top concern for the search engine in some time. It works of popularity (references) and known presence (time) on the internet more than anything else. If a person's facebook page isn't linked to a google account, but a relevant Google+ page is (by association), it makes sense they would want to search that as well while not search the other.

Don't complain on while on the Moon that you can only find air in the devices you came with and not naturally on the Moon.

Re:Completely unsurprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701012)

Because it's Google promoting their own services over competitors

Again, why is that an issue? That's standard in the whole world even outside of computers. NBC promotes their shows, not FOX's shows at all. Random House promotes their books over the books of other publishers. There is no requirement to promote your competitors products and services.

Google has no sort of monopoly. Granted, they do have the largest share of the search space, but the barrier to switching search engines is effectively zero (I know, because I did it long ago. I don't use either google or facebook, for the record). It's trivial to switch to Bing, Baidu, or any of a dozen others. There's no lock-in whatsoever. If you don't like google (I don't), just don't use them.

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

ilguido (1704434) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700852)

What? She's got no G+ page, search "Katy Perry" on Google and tell me what you see.
I just did it and I see: wikipedia, KP's offical site, mtv, her twitter account, a fan site, an english newspaper with an article about her, a couple of pictures (not from G+) and some more news. The only thing related to Google is a couple of youtube videos...

Re:Completely unsurprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701348)

So if you search for something in facebook, does it return the google+ result?

Isn't facebook, by orders of magnitude, the largest social network? And don't they promote their own stuff before anyone elses?

Why is it that people think Google search results are supposed to be unbiased? When relatively unbiased search results were something people were looking for, that's what google provided. However, they're a business and the market changes. Their product has to change as well. Or face eventual market death.

Google is not going to be found to be a monopoly, by the legal definition, let alone an abusive one.

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702002)

It's a big deal because Google is promoting her Google+ page, while not Facebook's. That's the whole issue.

Didn't you say she *doesn't* have a Google+ page?

Your argument is unclear - are you proposing that search engines are a public utility? Will the gubment take ownership? Who'll be footing the tax bill? Will this result in new legislation that gets applied to every search engine or index?

I'm guessing you live in a country that considers itself the boss of the world.

While you're lobbying for truth and justice - please prosecute Bing for not indexing my sites as fast as it indexes others - oh, and how about that Facebook search index? Twitter put up those nofollow tags... Can you whinge for me because I'm forced to use Google and it's not fair!

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701582)

I don't know who this Katy Perry person is (relative of Rick Perry?), but I'm guessing that the majority of people who want to find her Facebook page search for it in Facebook, not in Google. I don't have a Facebook account, nor do I really care about anyone's Facebook pages, so I never bother to click on Google links to Facebook accounts when they do crop up; more often, I use Google to find Wikipedia entries and official web pages for people. I'm guessing most people select the tool that seems right for the job: Facebook for searching Facebook, and Google for searching the web in general.

If enough people think that way, and if Google's rankings are based in part on user behavior, Facebook isn't going to rank high for Katy Parry, but Wikipedia and any campaign (candidate's daughter/spouse?) or official web page should.

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701906)

If I'm a facebook registered user and I'm looking for her facebook profile, I'd search Katy Perry on facebook, not on Google

Good point! If you already know where to find the content you're seeking then Google is doing nothing wrong by omitting that result.
So what if Google shapes results to hide things it doesn't want its uses to see? What harm could that possibly do? It's not like North Korea or China.
If your Aunt Tilly thinks "the internet" is what can be found through a Google search that's her own fault! It's not like very many people think that way.
People have to take responsibility for knowing what's out there! Depending on Google for searching "the internet" is just plain ignorant and lazy!

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701512)

I just checked and Katy Perry's facebook profile is indexable.

Well, I just checked Facebook's robots.txt and it says

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

Re:Completely unsurprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701518)

WARNING

smithz is DCTech is Insightbites is CmdrPony

troll alert troll alert

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

fwoop (2553110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702024)

Even so, how does Google know that the current user is (a) a facebook user and (b) has Katy Perry as one of his/her friends. Facebook doesn't share that information with Google. Facebook wants a walled garden vs giving users what they want. Google now knows who is in your circles and can give you better results as such for the entire internet as well as your circle of friends. Already there are bloggers who have written about how useful the new search is. [thomashawk.com]

And if you think this is evil, then will you say the same when Facebook does the same thing? When Microsoft does the same thing? Facebook is going public and you can be sure they will expand into general search, what do you think they'll do with all the information they have on their users? Especially given the low margins of facebook advertising compared to search advertising, it's only a matter of time until Facebook gets into search and leverages their social data. If anything, Google is guilty of pioneering this new way of searching. Users want this. They wanted Google providing search results using Twitter data then Twitter refused to share data with Google, so Google created their own network to give users what they want. I don't see a problem here.

Re:Completely unsurprising (0)

smithz (2552942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700506)

In fact now that I think of it, the best idea would be cut Google in half or more pieces. Their advertising as single company, their search engine as single company and rest of their services as single or other companies. That way the individual companies can concentrate on what they do and aren't tied to each other. Just like was suggested in Microsoft's case.

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

CodeReign (2426810) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700644)

Their advertising is their search engine. It's a hand in hand thing. And no cutting it would cause issues similar to Sony and Sony. SCEA doesn't have nearly the same policies as Sony-Ericsson. It's very hard to have a Mission Statement for a whole company when it's really 6 smaller companies.

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

smithz (2552942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700708)

Still their other services like YouTube and Google Places should be broken up to separate companies. Then Google would have no incentive to promote their other products in search results over other companies. Search engine + advertising could probably work together, rest of the services should be separate.

Re:Completely unsurprising (2)

Garybaldy (1233166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700798)

I don't get what people like you find so offensive about a FREE service advertising other parts of its FREE services. When you can CHOOSE to use any service you want.

Re:Completely unsurprising (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700662)

Their advertising as single company, their search engine as single company and rest of their services as single or other companies. That way the individual companies can concentrate on what they do and aren't tied to each other. Just like was suggested in Microsoft's case.

The difference is that Windows, Office, etc. all make money on their own, while Google's advertising revenue pays for everything else they do. There'd basically be no way for Google to be Google (in the sense most people think of them, i.e. "Google it") under such a breakup scheme.

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700684)

Precisely, what they should have done was prevented Google from buying doubleclick in the first place. Most of the rest of this stuff isn't a particularly big deal comparatively speaking. And as you imply there isn't really any way of cutting up Google's advertising business the way that one could with physical media or even TV/Radio advertising.

Re:Completely unsurprising (0)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700582)

The complaint--if you had read the article I linked--is that her Facebook page is crawlable, yet it doesn't show up in the results. Another example given is Britney Spears, who does in fact have a Google+ account, and it even lists her Twitter and Facebook accounts on it! Yet those links don't show up in the search results either.

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700718)

I stand corrected. A poster noted that Katy Perry's facebook page is indexable. I confirmed this by searching for it on Google, which found it.

Re:Completely unsurprising (-1)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701148)

Don't worry. You successfully got my comment modded down regardless, while your post of misinformation is modded up.

Welcome to Slashdot.

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701492)

No, what would be FAIR would be for them to link to her Twitter and facebook account.

Oh wait, didnt Twitter and Facebook tell google to shove off? Oh yea. Sour grapes, anyone?

Re:Completely unsurprising (2)

dissy (172727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701798)

This should be pretty easy for Google to fix.

We can look at the precedent set by the Microsoft antitrust case and use the same conclusions made there.

When you go to the Google search page, it can check for the google cookie, and if it doesn't see it, show a screen as such:

"Hello, we noticed you typed google.com into your browser. The courts have forced us to ask you if you are really really sure you meant to go to google.com when you typed google.com. Are you absolutely positively pinky-swear sure you didn't mean to reach one of these other search engines when you typed google.com?"
(Insert list of links to other search engines)

According to the results of the Microsoft anti-trust case, this would put them in full compliance once again.

Re:Completely unsurprising (0)

smithz (2552942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700448)

Completely agree with you. One should also read this article about the supposed openness of Google [seobook.com], or lack of it. Google is becoming extremely aggressive in their moves, and FTC is completely correct in investigating the company.

Re:Completely unsurprising (2)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701022)

Note the URL of your link. It's a case of spammers complaing about Spamhaus.

It's sad Google has to hide some of its operations, but it'd be basically impossible to fight SEO lowlifes otherwise.

Re:Completely unsurprising (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701052)

Oh look its you the shill, and you're back under a new username. [slashdot.org]

We're on to you. People aren't oblivious to a search engine complaining that their competition does better than them, and this stuff's been debunked a million times.

One day when you get cancer, we'll all rejoice.

Fascinating negative moderation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38700614)

The negative moderations to the OP are absolutely fascinating. Nothing untrue was posted, and it was heavily sourced with links. The backlash against the Google+ integration has been widespread outside of Slashdot. Yet the post gets modded down, I guess because it's critical of Google and you can't do that around here?

Re:Fascinating negative moderation (3, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700892)

Bonch and his puppet accounts are well known for posting pre-typed pro Apple or anti-Google as first posts. There are a couple of similar Microsoft shill acounts that are almost certainly paid astroturfers. Bonch and the others may or may not be paid. They get modded down regardless of content.

Re:Fascinating negative moderation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38700934)

Slashdot has become as bad as sites like Freerepublic or DailyKOS in terms of groupthink. If anyone goes against the chosen view, it gets squelched.

Google zealots have become worse than Apple and MS fanboys when it comes to defense of their chosen company and intolerance of any critical opinions.

Re:Fascinating negative moderation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38700994)

I complain about Google all the time, and often get modded up. Bonch is just a troll and deserves to be modded down. Take a look at his other posts.

Posted anonymously because this is off-topic.

Re:Fascinating negative moderation (0)

andydread (758754) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701356)

Because most people know the real reason Google is getting investigated by authorities is because a group of competitors and Microsoft partners led by Microsoft have been filing complaints like mad with governments all around the world. So people know this is bogus. Also Bonch is a known paid troll just take a quick look at his posts. He is owned by Microsoft, Apple, and RIAA/MPAA to name a few. His employer is a well known lobbying/public relations entity and hence his posts reflect as such.

Re:Fascinating negative moderation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701856)

everyone knows companies are scrambling to take down google any way they can because google is out to give back to the community and advance technology in the world rather than make money and that scares them. oh and google doesn't want to limit choice and enslave you to their products. the only so called lockin is because google makes superior stuff so everyone chooses to use them.

Re:Fascinating negative moderation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701924)

Quick, get the tinfoil hat out before it's too late!

Wow, Slashdot sure is important! (1)

LordRobin (983231) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702390)

I had no idea that Slashdot was such an important site that people are actually paid good money to troll the discussions on it.

He is owned by Microsoft, Apple, and RIAA/MPAA to name a few.

Why don't you add the Bilderbergers and the Illuminati to the mix?

------RM

Re:Fascinating negative moderation (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701550)

Some companies are paying people to astroturf. Some people with mod points are modbombing them. Astroturfing (And other forms of advertising or trolling) are most effective when they are mostly or even entirely true, just omitting the facts that don't support the desired conclusion. For example, pointing out the correlation between skin colour and conviction rate in the USA leads the reader to one conclusion, while pointing out the correlation between police search rate and skin colour or skin colour and economic class paints an almost inverted one. When presented with a post of the first category, you can either reply with one of the other points, or just moderate it as a troll. The second is easier and, if the poster persists in this behaviour, probably more deserved.

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700658)

Microsoft paid a lot of money to get their lawyers into the FTC and the DOJ. It would be passing strange for these to not go after Google. It doesn't matter, because they still have to operate within the law.

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700714)

Well no, Google being investigated for antitrust regulations was bound to happen the moment a Democrat was elected President. The real question is what precisely they decide to do about it. As has been mentioned, they can't break the company up, doing so would be nonsensical compared with breaking up a company that has a physical presence or exists in multiple markets making money.

They'll ultimately almost certainly be stuck with monitoring Google for some period of time and banning a small number of practices. Ultimately it's not likely to change much and that's assuming that the agencies decide to move forward with enforcement which they might not.

Re:Completely unsurprising (0)

smithz (2552942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700758)

They can't break Google Search and advertising, but they can break rest of the services like YouTube, Google Places etc, and mandate that Google Search doesn't create other services than their search engine and the advertising on it's side. That's exactly what the U.S. government should do.

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700850)

You mean except that none of those things turns a profit and that it's the ad and search businesses that are where the potential violations that people care about are allegedly being committed. Splitting them up like that would be worse than doing nothing.

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

smithz (2552942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700930)

If Google doesn't own the other services they have no incentive to promote them over competitors. Those services like YouTube can handle advertising and traffic building on their own. The issues people have with Google search results would go away if the company would be split up.

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

andydread (758754) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701456)

Looks to me like you are heavily invested in seeing Google destroyed. You put quite a bit of thought into it. I wonder what your motivations are. How are you linked to Microsoft?

Re:Completely unsurprising (2)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700784)

It's not a D or R thing. The fix was in on both sides. That's how they do it these days, and it's how they'll do it next time too. Redundancy: It's not just for servers, storage and networking any more.

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700840)

Bullshit. The President has a surprising amount of control over the bureaucracy. This is why you see differing priorities for government agencies under different Presidents. During the Bush administration there was little if any effort by the federal government to deal with these issues as under that administration it was believed that no business could grow too large and that there would always be benefits from mergers.

Re:Completely unsurprising (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700904)

The fix was in during the Bush presidency too. How do you think the antitrust investigation got shut down? Then as now the money went to both sides to ensure that no matter who won, they got their way. It's not a D or R thing.

What "rivals' applications"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38700456)

I'm a bit baffled by this sentence: "whether the company is using its control of the Android mobile operating system to discourage smartphone makers from using rivals' applications."

What applications is being talked about here? I'm assuming with rivals means either MS/Apple, or maybe other search engines and e-mail hosting and so on, but none of that really makes sense. Don't they develop Android in cooperation with the Open Handset Alliance, which includes said smartphone makers? Or is Google requiring certain applications not to be shipped on their phones as a requirement for licensing the Google apps? Does that even matter as long as end-users can install whatever they want on their phones anyway? I don't see Apple or MS offering google apps on their phones.

I guess I'm missing something, I can't really make sense of that statement. Can someone enlighten me?

Re:What "rivals' applications"? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700704)

It's especially strange since Apple explicitly forbids people from selling applications that duplicate the functionality of the built-in ones, and also has forced people to pay them for subscription sales. I think Google may be being punished for their anti-SOPA stance.

Re:What "rivals' applications"? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700736)

I believe it refers to the restrictions that manufacturers have to agree to in order to be allowed to use the Marketplace. I'm not sure of all the specifics, but the phones have to comply to a set of conditions otherwise they aren't allowed to participate in the Marketplace.

I can't comment on the merit or lack thereof as I'm not really sure what precisely the issue there is. But I suspect it has to do with the defaults.

it's an outrage (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38700490)

Let's see, Microsoft has bing search, upcoming arm tablets with windows 8, azzhure cloud, a lock on nearly 100% of the home PC market, a java clone named .net, proprietary lock-in document formats that are mandated throughout the US government (and most businesses), and the government is looking at google?

Talk about incompetence. I guess the US is picking on the new kid because Microsoft sent them home crying after the abject failure of the Penfield / Kotar-Kelly solution to the Microsoft monopoly in the 200X's. What an embarrassing fail this government is.

Re:it's an outrage (1)

smithz (2552942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700522)

What does Microsoft have to do with this? They are separate companies, they can investigate both if there's some issues. It's not an either Microsoft or Google situation.

Re:it's an outrage (2)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700640)

Microsoft is one of the companies that pressured the FTC (and EU) to start this investigation. In some cases they used shell companies instead of complaining directly.

Re:it's an outrage (1)

smithz (2552942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700730)

Microsoft isn't the only company. Yes, they're one of them because they also run advertising network and Google has been forbidding AdWords advertisers from running same ads on Microsoft's ad network. And there are also other companies who have complained to FTC and EU.

Easy to shut off... (4, Insightful)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700512)

It is three clicks to turn off this functionality.

Seach settings, select to not use personalized search, and then save.

Much more clear to use (or not use) than any change that Facebook ever made.

Re:Easy to shut off... (1)

smithz (2552942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700540)

That might be true, but completely irrelevant. They're still promoting their other services over competitors and user changing from default settings has nothing to do with it.

Re:Easy to shut off... (2)

CodeReign (2426810) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700688)

I don't see how. Google Tweet Deck [google.com] Both Apple and Google mobile markets show up in the search results. If twitter wasn't such a bitch about their site being crawled they would have updates on Google too. I can actually remember going to Google to use their realtime search because Twitter is such a shit site. But now twitter want's out of the realtime show on Google but they are saying it's unfair that Google has their own real time content providers. There are no "competitors" no companies want to take that realtime space, no companies want to share the data.

Re:Easy to shut off... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701048)

They're still promoting their other services over competitors

There's nothing wrong with promoting your services over competitors' services.

Re:Easy to shut off... (1, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700590)

Just like it was easy to use Netscape instead of Internet Explorer, or switch to Linux from Windows 98.

Re:Easy to shut off... (2)

whosdat (2551450) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700738)

Sure, it was easy to switch to Linux from Win98.

Except you pretty much had to pay for Win98 and IE before installing Linux and Netscape, because MS taxed OEMs for any non-Windows machines.

Learn history, it's not something hidden [justice.gov].

Re:Easy to shut off... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38700600)

Or you can just not use Google search. With the recent Kenya fiasco [slashdot.org] and all the crap that assholes like David Drummond (the guy who orchestrated the Kenya operation), Vic Gundotra (real names policy) and Andy Rubin (biggest hypocrite ever) are doing, I won't touch a Google product with a 10ft pole.

Re:Easy to shut off... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38700942)

But you would before that?

Google has been in Big Brother mode for a long time. I stopped using them ages ago. I don't think they deserve the feds on their backs though. It isn't like somebody is making me use google's service. I can just chose not to. It's bewildering to me why so many other people seem to be compelled to use things they don't appear to like.

Please also investigate the https change (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38700550)

When they started defaulting their logged in users to https, they also hid the referrer from the subsequent page. They say this was for security, but in reality, it was an antitrust action forcing people to either use google analytics or use pay per click. I would like to see that on the agenda as well.

Re:Please also investigate the https change (0)

smithz (2552942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700576)

Completely true, especially when the referrer information is sent for paid clicks. That's basically Google demanding payment if you want to get that information. That exact issue is also pointed out in this article about the supposed openness of Google [seobook.com] along with other interesting facts.

Re:Please also investigate the https change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38700632)

Why hello there, InterestsightfulantitheDavidSellCTech. It's not like nobody recognizes you, you might as well stop changing accounts and it's not like anybody but you links to this crap article for a dozen times already.

Anyways, you're kinda contradicting yourself, please choose between your "Google's worse for privacy than Facebook" opinion that went as first post in the article on FB privacy investigation and "Google should remove privacy when you're going for secure search".

Re:Please also investigate the https change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38700888)

Hiding the referrer is a good thing.

Re:Please also investigate the https change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38700918)

Hiding the referrer is a good thing.

I've not really heard any solid explanations as to why.

Re:Please also investigate the https change (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701640)

It's part of the recommended practice for HTTPS to HTTP because sites using HTTPS may put sensitive information (such as a session id) in the URL and you don't want this leaking. The browser does this, not Google - it simply omits the referrer header. DuckDuckGo has had an option to bounce via a redirect with a bland name if you visit an HTTPS site, and apparently Google will now do that too. This means that the site doesn't get your search string. Google may also put some other information in the URL (last time I typed anything into Google, the search URL was about 400 characters long, so I'm not sure what was in there) and if you care about your privacy then you may consider this to be a good thing. I turn it off because I'm not quite that paranoid, and because I find the slight delay as you go via the redirect to be more irritating than letting sites know what my search string was.

Re:Please also investigate the https change (3, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701174)

Funny. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] seems to think that behavior is standard operating practice for HTTPS->non-https connections.

If a website is accessed from a HTTP Secure (HTTPS) connection and a link points to anywhere except another secure location, then the referrer field is not sent.

Re:Please also investigate the https change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701432)

Funny. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] seems to think that behavior is standard operating practice for HTTPS->non-https connections.

If a website is accessed from a HTTP Secure (HTTPS) connection and a link points to anywhere except another secure location, then the referrer field is not sent.

You are 100% correct. But they actually use a redirect to hide it, even if your website is full https. They do this to hide the keywords used in the search, and therefore killing off any competitors to google analytics.

Re:Please also investigate the https change (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701484)

Or they're using it to more definitively track the clicks out, even if people have Javascript disabled.

In fact, it has always surprised me that "trick" worked with their links precisely for that reason.

Google (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700692)

Needs to buy some of the same government people Microsoft has.

Re:Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38700720)

Precisely, money buys politicians. But buying votes is illegal. There needs to be laws against campaign contributions and other loophole bribery. But until that is fixed, you're right, Google should start bribing politicians themselves.

Re:Google (0)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701226)

People are seriously going to try to spin this as a Microsoft-led government conspiracy? Google's ties to the government are well-known. For crying out loud, Eric Schmidt was a campaign adviser and is now a technology adviser to Barack Obama.

Yet ANOTHER Government Agency (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700728)

That's ridiculous. It seems like these days successful is synonymous with monopoly. What is anti-competitive, exactly, about having a feature that requires someone to sign up?

Re:Yet ANOTHER Government Agency (3, Informative)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38700864)

They haven'y bought government representatives like their competition (nor should they have to). I think they should move their company headquarters to Canada. It would make an excellent statement about the SOPA and other restrictions coming, as well as the state of the patent system in the US.

Re:Yet ANOTHER Government Agency (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701268)

Google doesn't need to buy government representatives--its executives already are the government representatives [cnn.com]. Eric Schmidt is a technology adviser to Obama, Google executive Sonal Shah led meetings on the transitory team, several ex-executives now work in the administration, and Marissa Meyer had Obama personally appear at her house during a fundraiser a week before the FTC dismissed its probe into the Street View scandal.

But yeah, let's blame it all on a Microsoft conspiracy.

do you even know what 'representative' means ? (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701486)

representative means congressmen. senators. these make the laws. and no, advisors dont mean shit - whatever the leashholder pays for, is legislated.

google needed to buy representatives. meaning, congressmen or senators. none of these would happen. or sopa.

Re:Yet ANOTHER Government Agency (1)

fwoop (2553110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702170)

And yet look at how far SOPA got. And look at the age of that article, and the fact that Obama hasn't been back since 2007, and you realize that now Google is perceived as a political liability, and is vastly outnumbered in Washington compared to the entertainment industry. Actually he came to the computer history museum last September just down the street from Google and he didn't go to Google. But he did visit Facebook last year. These days it's just cool to hate Google and being close to Google is political suicide. Because Google makes a lot of money.

This is what the FTC probe ended with: [allthingsd.com]

"“The company also publicly stated its intention to delete the inadvertently collected payload data as soon as possible. Further, Google has made assurances to the FTC that the company has not used and will not use any of the payload data collected in any Google product or service, now or in the future. This assurance is critical to mitigate the potential harm to consumers from the collection of payload data. Because of these commitments, we are ending our inquiry into this matter at this time."
Big deal.

Re:Yet ANOTHER Government Agency (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701240)

That's ridiculous. It seems like these days successful is synonymous with monopoly. What is anti-competitive, exactly, about having a feature that requires someone to sign up?

Signed,
Every Microsoft supporter in 1998

FUD (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38700772)

I would like to see the FTC members investigated for how many of them own Apple or Microsoft products or stock. These companies are desperate to destroy Google, who has done nothing wrong and is driving them out of business, and it wouldn't surprise me that they would stock the government with their fanboys and shills to accomplish this.

Nobody is forced to use Google products or services, they choose to do so because of Google's superiority and innovativeness. These charge are absolutely baseless and I look forward to Google being vindicated. Hopefully they file a countersuit afterwards for libel and harassment.

Re:FUD (-1)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701120)

Nobody was forced to use Internet Explorer either, but that led to an antitrust trial that Slashdot was pretty excited about at the time.

Now, the tables have turned, and the fans don't like it. The comments to this so far are pretty shocking: accusations that Microsoft has plants at the FTC, that the people there own stock in Apple and Microsoft, and other ridiculousness. And it's all getting modded up.

Outside of Slashdot, the reaction is quite different, and there is widespread criticism of Google's behavior. But this place is so anti-Microsoft and so pro-Google that everything is portrayed as a Microsoft conspiracy, with Google as the poor, oppressed victim. Google is a multi-billion dollar advertising megacorp with ties to the administration, yet it's Microsoft that's supposed to have bought off the government? Give me a break!

Stop treating multi-billion dollar corporations like sports teams. There's no good vs. evil story here.

Re:FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701176)

It's simply that a fairly large bunch of the people here is employed by Google.

Re:FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701354)

Stop treating multi-billion dollar corporations like sports teams.

... says the confirmed Apple Fanboy.

Re:FUD (0)

RazorSharp (1418697) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702014)

I guess it's alright that this place is so pro-Google and anti-Microsoft. At this rate, you're on pace to balance this out with your slew of anti-Google posts. What are you up to, 10 in this story alone?

Your advice to stop treating multi-billion dollar corporations as sports teams is something you should consider yourself. The fact of the matter is that corporations do have cultures of their own, which drive the employees and the corporation toward certain actions. Microsoft has a culture of corruption, a culture that has been revealed through their actions, public statements, and internal memos. Steve Ballmer is still their CEO.

Personally, I don't see Google as a white knight in shining armor, but they aren't the vile evil that is Microsoft.

Concerning Internet Explorer - that's bullshit and you know it. There's no comparison between IE and any of Google's services. Microsoft tried to tie IE and Windows in such a way that the internet required Windows. I have yet to see Google implement EEE.

Re:FUD (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701350)

For awhile I thought it was their cheeky attitude towards the uber patriotic SOPA and PIPA acts.

Remember that ex MAFIAA lawyers are now packing the DOJ.

Google shills (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701410)

And people say there are Apple and Microsoft shills on Slashdot? That last paragraph reads like stock phrases from a marketing suit. "...Google's superiority and innovativeness...these charges are absolutely baseless and I look forward to Google being vindicated..." And it gets modded as Insightful!

I use Google products too, but come on. Google is huge, and if they're overstepping their bounds, they should be investigated just like Microsoft was a decade ago.

Re:Google shills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701618)

oh really and whats so false about the statement. name one thing google does that anyone does better, nothing, thats what makes them superior. google invents new useful stuff that makes them innovative.

apple and microsoft are out to enslave you to their products and steal your money. they are evil and will stop at nothing, thats what makes it easy to believe they would infiltrate the government to try to shut down google. google is out to give back to the community and make the world a better place, they only care about money to cover their costs and make sure they survive, profit has nothing to do with it.

this entire investigation is nothing more than other corporations are jealous and afraid of google and want to tear down something that helps the world instead of stealing everyones money. you just sound like a hater.

For this. Completely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701082)

And I have supported Google for years.
But recently their cocky and "our stuff is better use it" attitude has been really annoying recently.

Their recent push to kill any and every project that isn't used by EVERYONE EVER has also pissed me off, since I used many of them frequently.
One of them was one I used everyday and that was Google Chrome Sidetabs. Don't give me your "oh it was an experiment boohoo", it wasn't harming a damn person by being there, its not like the damn UI changes are the reason. (seriously, it doesn't, check the buildbot)
The worst part was, they don't even have an official replacement. Just some crybaby saying "oh it a bad attempt, come back in another year and we will have something for you".
I recently updated Chrome only to have it return with 40+ pages all crushed in to tiny little tabs. (that is my average!)
WHY HAVEN'T THEY IMPLEMENTED SCROLLING AND MINIMUM SIZE TABS YET?
It's like the Chromium devs are casual web users, not having more than 5-10 tabs open at a time. (if THAT)
If I had the time, I'd fork it harder than Angelina Jolie. It is embarrassing, a piss poor effort at best.

Anyway. Completely behind this.
They are pushing their own services on their search engine and using it to their advantage.
Just because they are one company, doesn't mean they can just happily do this without consequence.
They should have to push their advertising as much as any other company needs to. They should have to make their own services as searchable and relevant as anyone else.
Ironic, considering the reason half their damn products got cancelled was because they failed to advertise the damn things. An advertising company not advertising? Who'da thunk it?
So much for that Innovation Company.

All this reminds me of was the times with Microsoft. Oh, wait, that still hasn't really changed and they are even trying to do it even now with forcing competition (Linux) off of the PC market and tablets.
Here, Microsoft, little tip, buy a hardware company and beat it. We don't want your lockdown. It is how crApple get away with it, how about you take some lessons from your late buddy Steve. Do it for him, Steve the 2nd.
This was, funnily enough, pushed forward by Microsoft.
Investigations by the same company who failed hard in the past.

Separate branches in the same company should be separate entities and still have to pay their own way. (or, in other words, have their default finances "cut" to the amount the payment cost, possibly even lowering salaries if the branch isn't profitable enough. It is the only fair way. )
Google Labs was the best thing to happen to them. Now there is nothing. Google, like all good companies, is slowly going to shit and becoming Yet Another Money Machine.
I'm thinking of setting my own e-mail server up soon. I can't afford to have all my information tied to a Gmail account.
As much as I used to love Google and a few of the developers (likewise with some of the MSDN people and MS Research), it is now at Like and slowly, but surely, going to indifferent.

This is anti SOPA punishment. (1, Troll)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701478)

Really - ALL of the alleged accusations are practiced daily by other technology companies which have major shares - like ms, apple. Especially apple is almost fascist compared to what others can do with their handsets, including anyone using their software. microsoft even as of now pushes ie9, hotmail, msn through windows. they are even wanting to 'kill' ie6 - it does not matter whether you want it or not, for good or bad measure.

This 'investigation' comes right at the time when sopa thing heated up, mainly because of google's participation and open anti-sopa advocacy. a major force - imagine if google went 'dark' and educated users for one day about sopa. there would not be anything left in the name of sopa after that day

so this is a preemptive strike. they are basically launching an investigation, to scare/caution google, so they wont be so vocal about this sopa shit. if they comply, its going to die out. if they dont, the investigation will find that they are doing anti competitive practices and penalize them. everything was fine when google was cooperating with the current administration for realizing their 'technological vision' ...

corporate bastardry and big media money in action. nothing else.

What relevant laws are being broken? (3, Insightful)

Danathar (267989) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701686)

As I understand anti-trust laws, It can't just be because somebody happens to be dominant and they leverage that in another product. There has to be something where the consumer is practically speaking unable to choose because of said dominance.

Spin much? (3, Insightful)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702086)

From the linked article:- Cecelia Prewett, an FTC spokeswoman, declined to comment on the widening of the agency’s investigation.

I interpret that to read "declined to comment on *claimed* widening of the agency's investigation.

I don't equate every investigation launched by the FTC as evidence of any wrongdoing - anymore than I equate a Department of Transport investigation into cars taking off from the lights all by themselves. They respond, by nature, to complaints. The complaints don't have to be valid.

Hint: automotive industry in trouble - find Fiat guilty (of not catering to fat feet). Rinse and repeat the next time the native automotive industry loses sales to a foreign competitor.

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