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Google and FTC Agree Settlement Over Antitrust

     
6:41 pm on Jan 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Google competitors unhappy with the way their results are displayed on Google search pages will be able to opt out under an agreement announced today by the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC announced the results of its lengthy investigation into Google's practices today and will require Google to make minor changes to resolve complaints by competitors and advertisers.

At the same time, the FTC found that Google's search results were not biased in favor of its own results in a way that was anti-competitive. Many of the practices condemned by Google's critics are used by

Separately, by a 4-1 vote, the commission ruled that Google will have to stop blocking the use of standard essential patents by competitors.

Google also agreed to remove restrictions on the use of AdWords, its search advertising platform, that make it harder for advertisers to coordinate their campaigns across multiple platforms.

Google and FTC Agree Settlement Over Antitrust [news.cnet.com]


Earlier stories
Google given EU anti-trust deadline [webmasterworld.com]
FTC To Rule in Google's Favor on Antitrust [webmasterworld.com]
7:33 pm on Jan 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

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From the New York Times [nytimes.com]:

The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday found that Google had not violated antitrust or anticompetition statutes...

The F.T.C. found that although Google sometimes favors its own products when producing search results with its ubiquitous search engine, its actions were “not undertaken without legitimate justification,” said Jon Leibowitz, the F.T.C. chairman.

Google agreed, however, to take certain actions to address what Mr. Leibowitz called “the most problematic business practices,” those that “relate to search in search advertising.”


Frankly, Microsoft and the others who were shoving kindling under this investigation should focus on making their own products better instead of relying on the tactic of suppressing those who are better, a common resort of the mediocre. I am glad for this ruling because the root of this has been about the mediocre who can't compete finding a way to suppress Google's better product.

I hope this lights a fire under Microsoft's butt and they start innovating, starting with being more liberal with backlink information. They have a good search engine but need to work on getting people to embrace it. A backlink search is a start for getting webmaster love.
9:37 pm on Jan 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

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The only good thing to come of this will be that advertisers can more freely move their campaigns from adwords to other networks.
10:29 pm on Jan 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

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From the BBC:
Google is also promising that it will stop copying content from other websites to use in its summaries, even though the company had insisted the practice is legal under the fair-use provisions of US copyright law.

[bbc.co.uk...]

I'm trying to fathom if that will mean sites will start popping up in SERPs with no description, or something along the lines of "A description for this result is not available because of this site's robots.txt". I mean, you can already influence how your snippet appears to a large degree by what you put in the meta description. What's additional benefits are they planning to allow webmasters?
10:57 pm on Jan 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I hope this lights a fire under Microsoft's butt and they start innovating, starting with being more liberal with backlink information. They have a good search engine but need to work on getting people to embrace it. A backlink search is a start for getting webmaster love.


I , curious about the above comment, do you mean you prefer G's back link report?

Come to think about it, is there a back link tool out there, more comprehensive than bings, hmm
10:50 am on Jan 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Funny how shameful news so often sneaks out during a holiday period.
9:22 pm on Jan 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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FTC found that Google's search results were not biased in favor of its own results in a way that was anti-competitive


So according to the FTC when I search for "placename hotels" and find Google hotels inserted above the search results leading to all other businesses, that is "not biased in favor of its own results"

Really....
8:01 am on Jan 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Someone in FTC works for Google.
8:16 am on Jan 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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do you mean you prefer G's back link report?


Huh?
3:20 pm on Jan 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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What I mean't was;

you referred to bing's backlink search facility as being in need of improvement, perhaps you know of more useful backlink research tool

Perhaps Googles backlink facilities

I've used majestic(paid), google, bing
8:17 pm on Jan 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Shameful collusion of state with organized crime.
4:06 am on Jan 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

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...this is why they didn't find any violations against Google..

The new FTC chairman that is about to replace the current one has close ties with Google and his group has a history of receiving funding $$$ from Google. Infact he authored a paper in 2010 going against doing anything to Google because by doing so it would "disrupt" innovation... He has also said that he won't touch Google matters for at least 2 years after he gets appointed the new position. Well played Google, well played.

[webpronews.com...]


Try search for "web browser". Chrome on page 1, Internet Explorer nowhere to be seent on the first 15 pages. Before the FTC conclusion, Chrome was set back but it seems someone at Google has manually set a "penalty" on IE and lifted the penalty on Chrome.
4:50 am on Jan 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

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btw anyone know why

Google.com is PR9
maps.google.com is PR9
youtube.com is PR9
gmail.com is PR9

hotmail.com is PR8
Microsoft.com is PR8
Bing.com is PR8
msn.com is PR8

Seems like Google once again is "manually" tweaking things. The FTC has failed American consumers.
10:38 pm on Jan 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Try search for "web browser". Chrome on page 1, Internet Explorer nowhere to be seent on the first 15 pages. Before the FTC conclusion, Chrome was set back but it seems someone at Google has manually set a "penalty" on IE and lifted the penalty on Chrome.


On the other hand I looked up "search engine" here in the UK and Bing was listed on the first page before Google. The highest listed search engine was Dogpile - yes, that's right, Dogpile - at number 2 with the inevitable Wikipedia in top position. So, I don't think these results show bias, they are just more examples of what a poor search engine Google has become.
9:23 am on Jan 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Let me explain why the ruling was flawed in a nutshell.

The F.T.C. found that users were not harmed by changes Google made to search results but they used Google's thinking instead of doing their own. example: when flight data from a newly acquired Google company began to dominate search results outside testing showed that this is what people wanted to see. The F.T.C. took that outside testing verbatim as meaning people really did want to see Google products ahead of natural results.

The problem: Google is not a content site!

Sure the outside evaluators liked seeing more content but they weren't rating a SEARCH page at that point, they were rating a CONTENT page and Google is not a content provider, they "borrow" content from everywhere.

Did it hurt anyone? Absolutely, every business who lost traffic from search RANKINGS felt it on their bottom line, while Google's bottom line improved. The F.T.C. should NOT have used content evaluations in determining the value of a search results page, they flubbed the task, bigtime.

I don't think Europe will make the same mistake.
3:22 pm on Jan 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I don't think Europe will make the same mistake.


I wouldn't bet on this. Commissioner Joaquín Almunia, in charge of Google "investigation", while a nice guy is arguably not up to the job.

.