The Wall Street Journal has published excerpts from a 2012 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) document revealing how Google manipulated the search market to favor its own services. The document was inadvertently sent to the journal after a Freedom of Information Act request.
Competitors like Yelp have been alleging that Google manipulates its search algorithm to favor certain sites and bury competitors. Now, we find that some government investigators were concerned about the same issue in 2012 and wanted to sue Google for antitrust.
The report mentions that the tech giant's actions harmed the consumers’ interests as well as innovation in the online search and advertising markets. It discloses how Google deployed anti-competitive tactics to sustain and promote its monopoly in search advertising.
The leading search engine adopted a strategy of demoting, or even refusing to display links to certain vertical websites in highly commercial categories. It altered the search algorithm to benefit properties owned-and-operated by Google, harming the interests of competitors.
The document also brought to public that Google illegally used content from its rivals, including Yelp, TripAdvisor Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. For instance, Google used Amazon's sales rankings to rank its own items. When the competitors asked Google not to use their content, Google threatened to remove them from the search results if they did not fall in line.
Google also barred websites using its search platform from working with Bing and Yahoo's search services. In addition, it prevented advertisers from using data generated by Google ad campaigns on platforms of competitors.
Eventually, Google agreed to make changes in its practices, following which the FTC commissioners decide to drop the investigation.FTC Report on Google Manipulating Search Market!,