October 15, 2012
The New York Times reported this morning that the Federal Trade Commission is preparing a recommendation that the government sue Google for allegedly manipulating search results to favor its own products and big brand shopping websites. The investigation, which began more than a year ago, is the most far-reaching antitrust investigation of a corporation since the landmark federal case against Microsoft in the late 1990s.
Photo: Robert Scoble.Google has been accused of using its vast power over the Internet to give unfair advantage to certain advertisers, namely big name shopping sites and companies which they own, and to discriminate against small business Adwords advertisers competing in the same verticals. While the mainstream media makes it appear that this is a recent development, Google have, in reality, been perfecting their technique for manipulating search results since as far back as 2004, all under the guise of “providing a better search experience.”
In December 2004, just before the big Christmas rush for online shoppers, Darren Rowse of Problogger.net lost more than two-thirds of the traffic to his digital camera website. For those who aren’t familiar with Rowse he’s one of the most respected bloggers on the Internet. So for Google to claim there were “quality issues” with his site is like saying Nike doesn’t know how to make athletic shoes.
Rowse, however, sucked it up because at that time, no one really suspected that Google might be using their powers for evil. Remember, the changes were all being made to “improve the experience for the searcher.”