Don't Be Evil or Whatever

I don’t recall seeing any stories about an FTC antitrust investigation into Google’s business practices, but the WSJ uncovered some previously secret details like these:

In its investigation, FTC staff said Google’s conduct “helped it to maintain, preserve and enhance Google’s monopoly position in the markets for search and search advertising” in violation of the law. Google’s behavior “will have lasting negative effects on consumer welfare,” the report said.

Google has long disputed any characterization that it is a monopoly, saying that competition is “just a click away.”

In discussing one of the issues the FTC staff wanted to sue over, the report said the company illegally took content from rival websites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor Inc. and Inc. to improve its own websites. It cited one instance when Google copied Amazon’s sales rankings to rank its own items. It also copied Amazon’s reviews and ratings, the report found. Spokesmen for TripAdvisor and Amazon declined to comment.

When competitors asked Google to stop taking their content, it threatened to remove them from its search engine.

“It is clear that Google’s threat was intended to produce, and did produce, the desired effect,” the report said, “which was to coerce Yelp and TripAdvisor into backing down.” The company also sent a message that it would “use its monopoly power over search to extract the fruits of its rivals’ innovations.”

I switched to Bing, and then to Duck Duck Go, because it was clear that Google was being creepy — I just had no idea how creepy. Google is still the best search engine out there, but “free” just ain’t worth it.

If you aren’t familiar with Duck Duck Go, it’s a search engine of search engines, and it anonymizes your data. It’s not perfect, but it is getting better. I use it as my default, and switch back to Bing when DDG doesn’t come through — which is less and less often.

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