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FTC Report Details How Google Manipulates Search Market

An “inadvertently disclosed” investigative report from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides new details about how Google has manipulated the search market to favor of its own services.

Part of the FTC Google report has been obtained and examined by The Wall Street Journal, which concludes that the tech giant’s actions “[have] resulted-and will result-in real harm to consumers and to innovation in the online search and advertising markets.”

Findings in the document show that Google has deployed anti-competitive tactics to maintain and enhance its monopoly in search advertising.

Specifically, the report says that Google “adopted a strategy of demoting, or refusing to display, links to certain vertical websites in highly commercial categories,” meaning that the company altered its search algorithm to benefit its owned-and-operated properties, while harming its competitors.

Meanwhile, the document points out that Google illegally took content from its rivals, including Yelp and Amazon. For example, the FTC found that Google used Amazon’s sales rankings to rank its own items.

When its rival websites asked Google to stop using their content, Google threatened to remove them from its search results.

In addition, Google prevented websites that were using its search platform from working with Bing and Yahoo’s search services. The company also prohibited advertisers from using data generated by Google ad campaigns on other competing platforms.

These findings stand in contrast to FTC commissioners’ decision in early 2013 to end the investigation after Google agreed to make some changes to its practices.

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