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FTC To Recommend Antitrust Case Against Google

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the sorry-about-your-luck dept.

Google 195

NeutronCowboy writes with news that a majority of top staff members from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission have become convinced that Google "illegally used its dominance of the search market to hurt its rivals." The FTC is now drafting a memo that recommends the U.S. government begin an antitrust case against Google. "The agency’s central focus is whether Google manipulates search results to favor its own products, and makes it harder for competitors and their products to appear prominently on a results page. ... The memo is still being edited and changes could be made, but these are mostly fine-tuning and will not alter the broad conclusions reached after an inquiry that began more than a year ago, said these people, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified. ... The FTC staff memo does not mean that the government will sue Google for antitrust violations. Next, the vote of three of the five FTC commissioners would be required. And each step is a further prod for Google to make concessions to reach a settlement before going to court. Last month, Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the FTC, said a final decision on whether to sue Google would be made before the end of this year.

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What? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41640931)

If you were in the business of advertising...

Wouldnt it be 100% your control AND your business to do exactly this? determine which ads to put where and why to get the best result?

Google is being investigated for doing their job... lol

Re:What? (2)

aliquis (678370) | about 2 years ago | (#41640969)

Rather seems like if (from the summary, I don't read articles ..) say I search for smartphones Google may give me an Android hit rather than an iPhone hit first?

As in since most people use their search engine they can also make it so people choose their products because they get a better place.

(I search for mail and gmail shows up and so on.)

I can kinda get that point. But if they put their own hits in "recommended" (maybe not), sponsored or Google products bubbles separate from the other hits I think that should be ok.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641001)

That reminds me... of that Chevy!

Badum-tish!

Re:What? (2)

graffatcolmingov (2447292) | about 2 years ago | (#41641581)

Using your example, I searched for mail. The top 3 results (in order) were: 1 mail.com, 2 Yahoo! Mail, 3 GMail. Maps bring Google up first, but that's logical because they've spent so much money on their maps service. XMPP, brings up Wikipedia first, while Talk brings up talk.google.com first. None of them show up in recommended, but at the same time, in the last case there are no competitors (that I'm aware of) so that isn't exactly anti-competitive. In the second case, that might be anti-competitive but IANAL.

Re:What? (3, Informative)

nschubach (922175) | about 2 years ago | (#41641673)

Hell, I searched for Smartphone and I got a wiki article on smartphones, CNET review of smartphones, and an AT&T site that lists iPhone first. On the side bar "Shop by Brand", in this order, Blackberry, Samsung, Apple, HTC, Nokia. If they were "stuffing the ballot", wouldn't Nexus be at least front page?

Re:What? (2)

bhagwad (1426855) | about 2 years ago | (#41641235)

Shouldn't a complaint from at least one customer be a basis for an anti trust suit given that this is meant to prevent harm to consumers? I'm getting the feeling here that the only people doing the complaining are the competitors.

Re:What? (2)

larry bagina (561269) | about 2 years ago | (#41641461)

Google's customers are advertisers. Some of them are complaining.

Re:What? (1)

bhagwad (1426855) | about 2 years ago | (#41641495)

Any link to elaborate on that?

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641621)

Nice demonstration of the total lack of understanding of anti-trust proceedings.

The answer to your question is : no.
Not necessary at all.

Re:What? (2, Informative)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 2 years ago | (#41641337)

you can decide what is the best search result (for example, you search for phone upgrade from an android and it sends to to an android comparison site, and if you search from an iphone it sends you to apple), but you cannot manipulate the results so that the best result is what helps your *OTHER* businesses, such as a search for a review on a local restaurant goes to your places site instead of other more popular sources.

This will be interesting. Microsoft was crucified for giving away a browser for free, to kill the Netscape browser, to kill the Netscape web server, so that Microsoft can maintain it's Windows monopoly.

Google gave away Android for free... What is the difference?

Re:What? (2)

bhagwad (1426855) | about 2 years ago | (#41641445)

There was nothing wrong with Microsoft giving away IE free per se. The problem what that it unfairly gave IE advantages that other browsers couldn't take advantage of. From the Wikipedia page:

"It was further alleged that this restricted the market for competing web browsers (such as Netscape Navigator or Opera) that were slow to download over a modem or had to be purchased at a store. Underlying these disputes were questions over whether Microsoft altered or manipulated its application programming interfaces (APIs) to favor Internet Explorer over third party web browsers, Microsoft's conduct in forming restrictive licensing agreements with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and Microsoft's intent in its course of conduct."

This is worlds apart from Google giving away stuff for free. Competitors are a click of the mouse away - there's no lock in. Only one person decides whether to use Android/Google or not the customer. No other forces make that decision.

Re:What? (0)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 2 years ago | (#41641521)

wasn't that what I said? Giving away IE to kill Netscape.

Was the intent of giving away Android to kill other phones, in order to maintain and extend its search monopoly on mobiles?

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641685)

>Was the intent of giving away Android to kill other phones, in order to maintain and extend its search monopoly on mobiles?

EXACTLY THIS. Bingo. 100% ACK.

Re:What? (2)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | about 2 years ago | (#41642055)

Except, back then (2001) Opera (v5) was only a 2.2MB download ... on the other hand Mozilla was what 20-25MB and took 2-5 hours to download on dialup.

Of course now-adays, Firefox and Chrome have reamed their user-interface, IE has too to some extent ... Opera while still as customizable as ever has gotten more and more unstable version after version - starting around v9.

Comcast advertises it's own pay-per-view (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641567)

When I go to the comcast directory, I see comcast's top five pay-per-video being previewed. Comcast does not advertise HBO movies, even if those movies are available.

Seems to me that television networks give preference to their own shows? How is that different from what Google does?

Should CBS advertise NBS shows?

Re:Comcast advertises it's own pay-per-view (2)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 2 years ago | (#41642145)

I'm pretty sure I've seen HBO ads on all the major broadcast networks... If NBC was willing to buy ad space on CBS, I'm pretty sure CBS would allow it. If CBS wanted to charge NBC more for that slot than say ShamWow, there might be a problem.

Really? (4, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 2 years ago | (#41640945)

Nobody forces anyone to use Google to search. They don't sell search. I fail to see a case, but IANAL.

Re:Really? (5, Interesting)

JobyOne (1578377) | about 2 years ago | (#41641013)

I'm inclined to agree with you.

I'm as entrenched as anyone could possibly be in the Google ecosystem, and it's not because they're force-feeding me their products. I frequently try alternatives when comes to stuff like online calendars, documents, email, whatever.

The reason my attempts to use other services never stick is simple: they're just not as good as Google's offerings.

I can kind of see where they're coming from if Google is in fact promoting their own services in their search, but I suspect that their own algorithms are picking out their own services because the most people use and talk about them...again because they're just the best offering.

Personally it's tough to sell me on the idea of a provider of free web services getting into antitrust territory, because a different search engine is always one different URL away. The same goes for all their other services. It's tough to even call them out on vendor lock-in, because thanks to the data liberation front they're one of the best companies I've ever seen on the internet when it comes to avoiding lock-in.

I'm dubious.

Re:Really? (-1, Troll)

GarrettK18 (1200827) | about 2 years ago | (#41641183)

In Soviet America, success is a curse. Obviously Google gaind an "unfair advantage" by "cheating"... fun fact: antitrust law has mostly been used by smaller companies with failed businesses/business models as a lever against the companies doing the actual innovating. Here's a good book [mises.org] on the subject.

Re:Really? (4, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 2 years ago | (#41641467)

To me, it looks like the lobbying by various competitors (hi, Microsoft, Expedia!) has finally paid off. There is no stickyness to Google services, outside of their quality. Switching is a click away, especially when it comes to search and maps. The complaints I've read? Nothing but sour grapes that Google didn't completely shaft their UI and search algorithm, just so that every competitor has the same or better page position (note that I didn't say search position) as any Google service listed on any of Google's pages.

If this goes through, it's the end of search algorithms: if someone is upset they aren't high-placed on the dominant search engine du jour (and there will ALWAYS be one), they can just sue for extra income.

Let me rephrase that: it will be the end of search engines in the US. China, I'm sure, will be happy to supply quality search engines that give a big middle finger to shenanigans like these.

Re:Really? (1)

Mashdar (876825) | about 2 years ago | (#41641611)

I am inclined to agree that search results displaying their e-mail service, etc, are probably influenced by how much people discuss them.
I wonder, though, if this case might be about services embedded in the search? Unit conversions, translations, and stock quotes are all automatically displayed upon a search. While (IMO) finding this anti-competative would be bad for consumers, I understand that it might prevent users from trying competing products.

Re:Really? (4, Interesting)

boaworm (180781) | about 2 years ago | (#41641017)

No but they sell ads. And people want to put their ads where people will see them. So it isn't much of a stretch to claim that they sell search.

They also sell sponsored results in their search results.

Re:Really? (2)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 2 years ago | (#41641035)

But they do not force anyone to use their search. I can use whatever search engine I want ever from my Asus Transformer Prime.

Re:Really? (2)

SquarePixel (1851068) | about 2 years ago | (#41641243)

They do force people to use their advertising platform, tho. Yes that's right, if you use Adwords you are not allowed to use the same ads on competitors advertising platforms. On top of that outright monopoly abuse, Google displays its own service higher than competitors, therefore undermining them.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41642079)

How much does Microsoft pay you?

Re:Really? (4, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 2 years ago | (#41641169)

OK, but at least in theory the site that attracts the most visitors (that you want to advertise on) is also the one that's the easiest to compete with.

Search itself isn't hard. That is to say someone with a VPS can probably build and run an Altavista clone and make a profit from ads if they want to. Not enough to give up the day job, but enough to cover the running costs.

Good search of course is harder, but Google's search has gone through phases where it's very good, followed by very awful, followed by OK, followed by (... etc, you get the idea), enough times.

Why does Google have a "monopoly" on search, and does it have a monopoly on search? The nearest I can think of, to be honest, is that they own the word "Google". People go to Google because it's good enough and they know it's good enough, and don't know enough about Bing or Yahoo search to feel that'd be less of a waste of their time. So Google has immense market share, but it's hard to believe it has market power - if it was signficantly worse than its rivals, people would get frustrated and switch, they would lose their trust in "Google" pretty quickly and have no reason to stay.

And I know that because I've done the same thing. I've switched from Google when it's been awful - when it's gone over the top in ignoring words in my search criteria and bringing up useless results, or when clicking in the wrong place causes my browser to hang for five seconds because Google's JS has decided to load an entirely unnecessary preview of a search result's color scheme (WTF? I'm glad they fixed that.) I've generally switched back because its competitors are for the most part lousy clones of Google that aren't better.

This is not like Windows, where people went to Windows because Microsoft was able to control the DOS market from 1981 onwards, and used its power as the controller of the "standard platform" to make it expensive for OEMs to bundle competitor's products. (This is not to say early Windows wasn't an improvement on, say, GEM, but the reason why we have Windows on home computers in 2012 is not because Windows 1.x or 2.x was a more sophisticated, powerful, system in 1987 than GEM or DesqView.)

Disclaimer: I don't actually have a disclaimer. Last month I sold my sole share in GOOG because my new kid means I need the cash right now. ;-) Boy did I pick the right time, I can't imagine this announcement is going to help the stock price...

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641751)

Great post, and congratulations! :)

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641901)

Thank you :)

Re:Really? (1)

udachny (2454394) | about 2 years ago | (#41641989)

I sold my sole share in GOOG because my new kid means I need the cash right now

- you are a real power player, aren't you? Don't spend it all in one place though!

Re:Really? (1)

openfrog (897716) | about 2 years ago | (#41641093)

Indeed, really?

Please begin with enforcing the anti-trust case brought against Microsoft, which in this case was justified, proven and concluded, and then we might perhaps consider those new claims by the FTC against Microsoft's rival, which Ballmer promised to destroy. Doing otherwise might likely bring shame and discredit to the FTC itself, and the current Democrats administration.

Re:Really? (1)

openfrog (897716) | about 2 years ago | (#41641205)

Oh, and furthermore, what an interesting timing, just when Google in under concerted attack by Apple and others, in view of destroying Android!

I really do hope some Democrats will wake up and tell someone responsible in this administration that they should check what kind of crap some civil servants are moving.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641211)

You're right on both counts. Both counts are also irrelevant.

Nobody forced anyone to use Windows or IE in the 90s (believe it or not, MacOS, BeOS, Linux, BSD and others all existed at were available at the time). Nobody forced you to use IE, nobody prevented you from using Opera or Netscape, and Microsoft didn't sell IE. What they did do is use their dominant position in the desktop OS market to gain an unfair advantage in, what was at the time considered, a different unrelated market.

This is exactly what is being claimed Google is doing: leveraging their dominant position in the search market to gain unfair advantages in other, unrelated markets. If they really are doing this, it certainly is worthy of investigation. Nobody gets a free pass, Anti-Trust doesn't only apply to companies you personally don't particularly fancy.

The arguments that come up are just stupid, I especially like the one how they should get a free pass because other search vendors could offer more to be the default search in various product - Other vendors could have sweetened the pot for PC OEMs in the '90s. It has to work both ways, or not at all.

Yeah yeah, label me shill, and downmod me to oblivion

Re:Really? (1)

bhagwad (1426855) | about 2 years ago | (#41641257)

From what I understand, IE was baked into the OS in a way that gave it special capabilities and advantages over other browsers. As for Windows, I believe they had tied up the market in such a way that it was difficult to purchase a laptop without it. "Difficult" - not impossible.

Those are very different from a completely optional service like Google.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641389)

Nobody forced anybody to use Internet Explorer, but some how Microsoft lost and Netscape one that anti-trust case. Microsoft didn't "sell" web browsers, and that happened to be one of the government's main points again Microsoft.

Re:Really? (1)

Daerath (625570) | about 2 years ago | (#41641465)

That isn't the point. Nobody forces you to use Google, but Google has a majority of the market share and as a consequence, they will be held to a different standard. If Google is altering search results to the benefit of their products and the detriment of their competitors products then there isn't much to discuss. It will simply be a matter of determining how much financial damage that has caused their competitors and how much Google has profited from that behavior. It isn't a question of, "Are they going to be found guilty?" It's one of, "How much will they be fined?" If Google weren't the clear leader in the search market it may not be an issue, but they are, so it is. Face it. Google is the same as every major corporation.

Re:Really? (2)

alexmipego (903944) | about 2 years ago | (#41641725)

I totally agree with you although I don't think you need to sell something to change the "moral" here.

For instance, if Google advertising their own products on their own services makes for an anti-trust case, then perhaps TV channels should also be forced to advertise the competion's schedule? No one forces you to use/watch either services and some channels are paid, so I fail to see the distinction here.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641867)

Oh really... you dont see a case huh?

Well google is getting an unfair advantage and cheating because they're not doing like all the other companies...

Google isnt pissing off all their users and customers right and left. Ripping them off with fees all over the place. Making them hate the company! Every other company does it... Does google think they're better than that or something? How DARE THEY! BURN THEM! BURN THE WITCH!

Why cant google play fair.... :(

Re:Really? (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about 2 years ago | (#41642047)

Not only that, where is the obligation of google to not offer services other than search when they generate results for free? Unless these whiners like Yelp can show that google is purposely altering their search algo to downrank them they should just learn how to compete betere. Ironically I did a serach for oil change places in my area and the first listing was a review on yelp.

There are no barriers to entry for search either. Certainly google itself dethroned yahoo, excite, altavista, etc.

REALLY!?!? (1, Funny)

trparky (846769) | about 2 years ago | (#41640953)

Wrong company jackasses! You should be going after Apple!!!!

Re:REALLY!?!? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 2 years ago | (#41640999)

Why? Apple has less than 20% of the PC market, less than 50% of the smartphone market. The iPhone is no more closed than the Wii, PS/3, or XBox 360. Frankly they should be going after Comcast, Time Warner, and Microsoft.

Re:REALLY!?!? (1)

JobyOne (1578377) | about 2 years ago | (#41641119)

On the Microsoft front they should specifically be going after Microsoft AND Intel together.

Re:REALLY!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641227)

What do you guys mean "OR"? I think we can all agree, that they should go after ALL of them.
Ok, actually, there is no "they". WE should. I should.
No. Not "should". WILL.

We will go after all of them.

There. That is better. :)

Re:REALLY!?!? (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about 2 years ago | (#41642053)

And what % of the revenues in the smartphone market? And what about patent abuse?

Re:REALLY!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641051)

Watch out! We've got a fanboi here! XD

Re:REALLY!?!? (1)

trparky (846769) | about 2 years ago | (#41641357)

Yes, I do have an Android phone and I like my Android phone. What I don't like about Apple is that they seem to have some kind of idea in their heads that they can sue just about everything that moves. That's bullshit, it needs to stop.

Re:REALLY!?!? (1)

trparky (846769) | about 2 years ago | (#41641371)

They are abusing the patent and legal system and it needs to stop. Yes, I know that the patent system is indeed broken but that doesn't mean you should go ahead and abuse an obviously broken system.

"Lobby" more, like Apple (2)

gelfling (6534) | about 2 years ago | (#41640959)

You get the government you pay for.

Re:"Lobby" more, like Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641195)

You mean like Google who spends eight times more on lobbying compared to Apple.

http://adweek.com/news/technology/google-lobbying-spending-leads-tech-pack-142114

Your point, gSheep?

Re:"Lobby" more, like Apple (5, Insightful)

GPierce (123599) | about 2 years ago | (#41641305)

That used to be true. Today I get the government someone else pays for.

Re:"Lobby" more, like Apple (1)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 2 years ago | (#41641369)

I have modpoints, but I wish I hadn't commented!!!! :)

"Jon Leibowitz"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41640973)

Wait, there is another Jon Leibowitz, that is not Jon Stewart [wikipedia.org] ? (And also not his brother.)

Apparently, there is [google.com] .
That screams for some funny trolling. ;)

Google is like a creepy long-lost uncle (-1, Troll)

ickleberry (864871) | about 2 years ago | (#41641021)

Anything you want to do, he offers to do for you, apparently for free. On the face of it he appears to be a great lad but a bit on the nosey side, he has a good rumble through your stuff while you're gone and although he's careful putting everything back you still know he was there and still suspect him. He might have some contacts who occasionally try to sell you stuff but it seems harmless, until you realise he is indirectly trying to flog stuff to all your friends as well.

He offers to run your email server for free, in the hope that you will forget how to yourself and that the people writing MTA's now will just give up development allowing Uncle Goog to leap miles ahead of anything out there now and that you and everyone else become utterly dependent on him. He offers to drive your car so eventually he controls where you go, how you go there and at what speed, tells you its for your own good because he reckons he's a better driver.

Once you are completely dependent on him of course he can start to dig in, the stuff his friends try to sell you isn't so cheap anymore, he'll no longer drive you to where you used to get your stuff, his email service will be filled to the brim with invasive ads. In fact he'll turn out worse than the worst helicopter parent. Tell him to take a long walk off a short pier before it's too late.

so is everyone else (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641089)

I wouldn't go to the same extremes you do in describing google. I do agree that google's business model is built on exploiting consumer's habit for profit, but the issue with the FTC, is that the other creepy uncles of the world are demanding their chance to go through your things. Getting the FTC involved will only make things worse.

Re:Google is like a creepy long-lost uncle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641147)

This has nothing to do with anti-trust.

Re:Google is like a creepy long-lost uncle (2)

Elbereth (58257) | about 2 years ago | (#41641149)

The analogy that I prefer is that of a creepy, too-friendly neighbor who hires a private detective to thoroughly investigate you, so that it knows what kind of housewarming gift to give you.

I'm not sure that Google has plans to go all Big Brother on us (that seems more like an Apple or Microsoft thing). Google strikes me as more like an awkward, autistic person who just doesn't realize how creepy his behavior is. He means well, but he's just to damn creepy for me to be comfortable around him.

Re:Google is like a creepy long-lost uncle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641281)

You forget that he gets shitloads of money from selling information about you to his clients.
Also, he doesn'. hire anybody. He does it himself.

Re:Google is like a creepy long-lost uncle (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641529)

You forget that he gets shitloads of money from selling information about you to his clients.

Google does not sell user data.

Google uses user data to target advertising, but doesn't really even give advertisers much control over what demographics to hit... instead Google's algorithms learn which demographics tend to favor what kinds of products and does the targeting itself. Google doesn't provide much feedback to advertisers about what those algorithms have decided, and certainly doesn't give them information about particular users.

Actually giving any of the information to clients would reduce its value, after all, and clients wouldn't be nearly as good as Google at applying it effectively anyway.

Translation of this more accurate description into the creepy-neighbor analogy is left as an exercise for the reader.

Re:Google is like a creepy long-lost uncle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641297)

Hint: anyone can do a decent job of their own investigation using BeenVerified for the area of the person they are looking for and either Zabasearch or Spokeo for address and/or phone number.

Google is useless except for coworkers digging up old Usenet posts to try to get someone fired.

Re:Google is like a creepy long-lost uncle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641345)

Didn't two workers at HP San Diego do just that, causing them to be put on separate teams to have a little less interaction between those two? Yes, they did, they dug up old Usenet posts to try to get someone fired, only HR dealt out discipline for those two and apparently the reporting manager.

That manager also went around telling others about Google Groups like it was something just discovered. Wow, those some have too much free time over there, next in line for layoffs?

Re:Google is like a creepy long-lost uncle (0, Flamebait)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 2 years ago | (#41641437)

Other than Apple controlling what apps get into the iOS appstore - and you *CAN* write and distribute your own apps outside the appstore, you just need a cert - this is the only thing I can even think of where people go "waaah, big brother" - and I prefer this model than the anything goes + 50,000 malwares appstore Google has, how else is Apple a Big Brother?

Re:Google is like a creepy long-lost uncle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641153)

GOOG just became Doubleclick, that is all. The only thing left of original Google is search.
They should just rename themselves to Doubleclick. As for me, Bing has given me more than acceptable results time and time again, all I really use now and then of the newest reinvented Google is YouTube.

Re:Google is like a creepy long-lost uncle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641233)

that's the most idiotic thing I've read on /. in a while, and that's saying something.

Re:Google is like a creepy long-lost uncle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641971)

that's the most idiotic thing I've read on /. in a while, and that's saying something.

go sit on something long enough to reach your head.

Re:Google is like a creepy long-lost uncle (2)

tmosley (996283) | about 2 years ago | (#41641245)

Ri~ght, because the internet is totally closed and there is no price competition there. Also, everyone only buys the things they see in ads.

I have noticed that those who defend government intrusion into both the private lives of citizens and into the market come up with the wildest, most asinine examples to justify their intrusion. When bad things happen as a result of thier intrusion, they then use those to justify more intrusion. There is a disgusting metaphor that is apt here, but I will leave it be. Needless to say, the practice utterly disgusts me.

Re:Google is like a creepy long-lost uncle (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41641261)

If Google ever tried that people would just switch to other services. The entry cost is relatively low and Google doesn't really have a monopoly on anything, there are other search engines, email providers, browsers and phones. Competition ensures that they never can pull a stunt like that.

Re:Google is like a creepy long-lost uncle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641383)

Sounds like that old Microsoft campaign. But I know you're not a hack, just deluded.

Re:Google is like a creepy long-lost uncle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641405)

Wow, I'm glad I'm not in that family... my uncles are nothing like that.

I can save them a lot of trouble (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641047)

The agencyâ(TM)s central focus is whether Google manipulates search results to favor its own products, and makes it harder for competitors and their products to appear prominently on a results page.

If I go to Google and search for "web browser" the results are:

1. Wikipedia
2. Opera
3. Opera again
4. Mozilla
5. News for web browser
6. Chrome
7. Safari
8. Webopedia (of all things)
9. Maxthon
10. Flock
11. docs.python.org

Those bastards!

Re:I can save them a lot of trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641189)

You got personalized search results. I got Mozilla Firefox for the second result and Chrome for the fourth result.

Doesn't Google contribute to Firefox?

Yep, I see a reason for antitrust, not kidding, no joke.

Re:I can save them a lot of trouble (1)

TheSunborn (68004) | about 2 years ago | (#41641265)

Funny. If i search, the top hits are:
1: Wikipedia
2: Wikipedia
3: Opera
4: Opera
5: "News for webbrowser"
6: "Firefox"
7: "Firefox"
8: webopedia.com
9: Chrome.

And it might be a personalized search, but I have newer used or searched for opera before.

Re:I can save them a lot of trouble (2)

Cinder6 (894572) | about 2 years ago | (#41641459)

I don't use Google anymore, precisely because of the "search bubble". My Google result just now was:
1. Wikipedia
2. Firefox
3. Opera
4. Chrome

Somewhat interesting, given that I don't use Firefox or Opera. My DuckDuckGo search gives me a bunch of web browser definitions, reviews, comparisons...and Firefox. So I guess some things are the same. It's all a plot by Mozilla.

Re:I can save them a lot of trouble (1)

hjf (703092) | about 2 years ago | (#41641471)

Sure, AC. Disable adblock and try again.

Re:I can save them a lot of trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641569)

I don't use AdBlock, and I run Chrome [hpcloudsvc.com] (and used Chrome for the above results).

Nonsensical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641077)

Google doesn't have an illegal monopoly. They have such a large market share because they have consistently delivered the best product for over 10 years.

Google's algorithms are not an end in themselves. The whole point of the algorithms, and the reason Google is always tweaking them, is to deliver the best user experience. If Google decides that the best way to do that is by emphasizing other Google products in the search results, how can you argue with that? Is that an antitrust violation? Does Google have to make their results *worse* in order to comply with the law?

The whole thing is nonsensical. My bet is that the DOJ feels that Google didn't give enough money to Obama's campaign this year.

Re:Nonsensical (1)

BobPaul (710574) | about 2 years ago | (#41641733)

The DOJ isn't involved yet, so cut the conspiracy bullshit.

Whether a monopoly is illegal isn't decided by how you acquired the monopoly. It's what you do after you achieve monopoly level market share which determines whether your monopoly is legal or illegal. You can be as anticompetitive as you want, but once you dominate any market segment, you have to be careful how you use that dominance.

I agree Google is probably fine, but for different reasons.

Total BS (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#41641083)

It is easy enought to get on the first page. Simply develop a decent page, keep it simple, and you win. Disgusting that FTC is being bought by other businesses which is likely MS.

Re:Total BS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641167)

Create a page that competes directly with a google service and try again.

Re:Total BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641291)

but why shouldn't googles maps or email be at the top of the results? that really is the best result! i'm not even a google fan i prefer apple but to say google maps or gmail or whatever shouldnt be at the top of the search results is just a load of shit to be honest.

Re:Total BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641523)

The search is for maps, not Google Maps. Put Google Maps as a clearly marked Sponsored Link, then list maps search results.

Peppering search results with Google products is grounds for antitrust investigation, it is like fake neutrality.

Google are evil type in ANAL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641085)

And you get Google Analytics as the first result.

Re:Google are evil type in ANAL (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641477)

When I type in ANAL, I get your Mom's phone number...

C'mon FTC.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641123)

Show some love for Microsoft also...nevermind, cuz my girlfriends said they saw you and Mikey Soft kissin'.

Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641141)

I'm sure I'll be modded up for this, but, fuck Google.

Crazy government and the cheering crowd (1, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#41641145)

And so the crowd cheers as it gets its bread and circuses, while the government is going absolutely crazy, attacking successful business because it's successful and it doesn't 'share' enough with the government obviously.

Just like the cases of Standard Oil (the company that over the stretch of 30 years brought prices of oil down from 30 cents per gallon of refined oil in 1869 to 5.9 cents in 1899, and by the time it was broken up in 1911, there were 150 competitors, and since it was broken up the prices for oil never went down again, thus gov't ended up hurting the consumer), Alcoa Aluminium (again, the same thing - a large business giving its customers the best deal in the market for years, so the gov't saw an opportunity to make tons of money by allowing fake competition to emerge by preventing the successful business from being so successful) the same thing with many companies.

The same thing is happening here. What is Google? One of the worlds search engines, a successful advertising platform, an Internet app provider, a researcher and developer, etc.etc., one of the (if not the most) coveted employees.

It is obviously stepping on too many toes for it not to be attacked by the government dogs, and they are dogs.

Actually, personally, I have more reasons to be upset at Google than gov't does. I have problems with their advertising, but not because they push their own services more, or whatever, but because of their stupid policy on advertising, I don't want to get into details, but basically I have to advertise with their various competitors and not with them, but that's too sad for me. But AFAIC there are alternatives.

And even if there were no alternatives, while Google was highly profitable and problematic for some advertisers, what it would tell me is that there is a good opportunity in that space, not that government should be used by me to attack Google.

Yeah, I could use government to attack Google, in fact it would be a good business practice for me to attack Google by using the government, it makes perfect sense for a business to use the path of least resistance, and if that means using government, paying off some politicians to promote my business, I should do that.

Who really should be pissed off and upset are the people who get something from Google rather than from government. Whether you call them the clients, the consumers, even 'the product', they should be upset.

Right now Google is providing a good product, it provides a good platform, it provides people with what they want, and in case of the home users, they don't have to pay for it! What if government does get something from Google that it wants? What does it mean?

It means more money going to the government, it means reduction of money that Google has to spend on its own initiatives, on its own development and research, on its own business. It means reduction of service.

Does it mean that the quality of searches will increase? BY GOVERNMENT DECREE? Of-course not. It means that there may be new laws and regulations, it means there may be new licences, it means there may be new government positions, it means that Google may even be broken up into pieces! That's what it means!

Why would ANY of it be good for the consumer? It never is! Just like breaking Standard Oil or Alcoa was NOT good for the end consumer, this won't be either.

As an end consumer, do you give a shit that there is more artificial "competition" created by government in some field, with licenses, with taxes, with breaking of successful business apart? Why would you care if what YOU get is reduction of services, higher prices, less options?

What about investors, they are going to take a hit! In this economy.

What about employees? They are going to take a hit. In this economy.

Does this mean it's good for the government? Well, for SOMEBODY in gov't it may be good, but the overall situation will be bad. Google may outsource more of its operations into other countries, where regulations are not as crazy.

Google may fire people, especially if it has to shell out a huge settlement or if it's broken up. There are all sorts of reasons why this is bad for the company and it's bad for the clients and customers and end users.

This is more of the same central planning and collectivism, that fuels this ridiculous notion that the government knows how to run a more efficient industry or business, while in reality the gov't doesn't give a shit, but some politicians will make a name and money, and also lawyers will end up fatter and happier while actual PEOPLE will end up with more dick up their ass.

Re:Crazy government and the cheering crowd (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41641213)

There are more things in heaven and earth, Romeo,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Although, I will the first to admit that you're a persistent little cuss.

Re:Crazy government and the cheering crowd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641329)

There are more things in heaven and earth, Romeo,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Although, I will the first to admit that you're a persistent little cuss.

Horatio is suing you for anti-trust now.

Re:Crazy government and the cheering crowd (2)

Laxori666 (748529) | about 2 years ago | (#41641349)

Mod parent up. How does it help business for the government to set the example of: "Oh, if you become too successful, we'll sue the shit out of you. Because it's unfair to your competitors that you did a better job than they did. Unless, of course, you've donated sufficiently to some of our campaigns; then we'll probably leave you alone."

Mod parent down (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641487)

because telling people how to use their mod points is lame.

Proof? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41641321)

This is a strong claim, I wonder if there's any proof to back it up. I've never noticed a bias towards Google's services in search, the only time I remember is when they displayed a warning on Youtube saying that it only works in Chrome. That was somewhat distasteful but has been removed since, and in fact I used Google to find another email service without much problem. Can someone show search terms that have a bias?

I do not like Bing (1, Funny)

3seas (184403) | about 2 years ago | (#41641325)

So blame Google for it...

Poor Microsoft (0)

ISoldat53 (977164) | about 2 years ago | (#41641491)

They need the FTC to protect them from the big mean Google.

Attention fandroids: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641519)

This page is full of comments insisting that the FTC/government is wrong. I just wanted to let you know that government failure isn't an isolated incident and you can expect the same treatment from ObamaCare as you get from the TSA.

Re:Attention fandroids: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641605)

STFU RomneyBot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ge03Sys8SdA

FTC: why not investigate Apple/MS collusion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641591)

We now know why Apple pulled google maps, just before MS sued Google over maps.

That is what they are supposed to do (1)

rosaliepizza (951681) | about 2 years ago | (#41641603)

I thought the legal responsibility of any public corporation was to do any thing ethical and legal to earn money for shareholders. What do the regulators expect them to do ?

Google - google products (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641607)

Is it just me that suspects that this will turn out as a giant waste of tax payer money?

If I go TO GOOGLE's SEARCH ENGINE to find a service, I don't generally go there expecting that a search for "webmail" is going to find my corporate OWA page...

If someone want's to find Yahoo's offerings, they would search for "yahoo mail"

and if you weren't sure (or didn't care) you'd likely be one of the stupidly large percentage of people that just use the built-in-bing search in IE to "search" for email.
(which to my surprise, returns yahoo, gmail, wikipedia, mail.com, then hotmail)

I think the real COMPLAINT here is that Google doesn't PROMOTE their competition AHEAD of their own products. (which we all know just means "promote their competition for FREE")

PJ from Groklaw comments (4, Informative)

walterbyrd (182728) | about 2 years ago | (#41641629)

Are they kidding? How about looking into Microsoft and Nokia and Apple and MOSAID and fill-in-the-blank-patent-trolls and all Microsoft's little FairSearch helpers in a conspiracy to use patents to destroy Android? Who started the patent smartphone wars, after all? It wasn't Google. By the way, have you written a nice, polite letter or email to the FTC about this? Here's their general contact page; here's the antitrust page, with an email contact. Note they state that if you wish your expressions to be kept confidential, don't email. Send a regular letter marked confidential.

Google Minus Google (1)

nomad-9 (1423689) | about 2 years ago | (#41641643)

Google's own reply to monopoly charges was something like: If people don’t like our search results, they're free to try Bing, Yahoo,etc., or "even Google Minus Google".

Pretty straightforward response and to the point, if you ask me. If you don't trust Google search, try other search engines. Who's stopping you? They're just one click away... and among the first - Google search - results for "search engine":
1. Wikipedia definition of Web search engine
2. Dogpile Web search
3. Bing
4. Yahoo! Search
Interestingly, Google''s own product, its Custom Search Engine, comes only in 7th position...Seems to me if I were to "abuse my position of dominance to hurt rivals", I wouldn't list my results as above.

Clearly backed (1)

tarellel (863902) | about 2 years ago | (#41641845)

All clearly back by microsoft... And more lawsuits to come after this quick release of our newest failure for an Operating System.

I'd say its quite the opposite of what they think (1)

corychristison (951993) | about 2 years ago | (#41642081)

I am inclinded to think that Google has is manipulating their search results but opposite from what they are assuming in the article.

Think about it this way: Googles algorithm bumps up the most popular results page rank. If people are using Google Search to find other Google products (very common, seeing as how Google Search is integrated in most browsers by default) then the PageRank for those products will be higher. One way around this (as mentioned above by someone else) is to use what is called "google minus google". Essentially when you search using Hoogle Search you append a "-google" to the end of your query. This will filter out any Google related results.

I moved away from Google a while ago, now using DuckDuckGo. Tried StartPage but it just seemed like they were trying too hard to be google, not taking their own direction.

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