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In a still-simmering Google antitrust complaint, UK-based vertical search outfit Foundem accuses the Mountain View web giant of using its search monopoly to unfairly favor its own services over those of its competitors. Google chief executive Eric Schmidt denies the accusation, arguing that the company's search engine always delivers "the best end-user outcome." But Harvard professor and noted Google watcher Ben Edelman believes otherwise.
He says he's found a "smoking gun" that indicates Google's search engine does in fact favor the company's own services.
Edelman says his evidence shows that Google may "hard-code" its own links to appear at the top of certain algorithmic search result pages, including links for Google Finance, Google Health, and other Mountain View-operated web services. In other words, these links appear independently of Google's search algorithms, undermining the company's off-stated claims that its search results are unbiased and completely automated.
Particularly interesting is Marissa Mayer's comment in this video from 2007
As Edelman points out, his findings run contrary to Google's age-old description of its search engine. "No manual intervention," Google Fellow Amit Singhal said in a 2008 blog post. "The final ordering of the results is decided by our algorithms…not manually by us. We believe that the subjective judgment of any individual is…subjective, and information distilled by our algorithms…is better than individual subjectivity."