Search Neutrality

A principle that search engines should have no editorial policies, excepting their preferences for comprehensiveness, impartiality, and relevance.

Justice Department Disagreement Arises Over Possible Google Antitrust Suit

Some Justice Department staffers have expressed internal concerns over plans to bring an antitrust lawsuit against Google—and what they view as an aggressive timeline favored by Attorney General William Barr. The department has been moving toward bringing a lawsuit as soon as this summer, but some lawyers involved in the yearlong investigation have expressed a belief that the department doesn’t have a camera-ready case right now and needs more t

Searching for Video? Google Pushes YouTube Over Rivals

When choosing the best video clips to promote from around the web, Alphabet’s Google gives a secret advantage to one source in particular: itself. Or, more specifically, YouTube. Google executives in recent years made decisions to prioritize YouTube on the first page of search results, in part to drive traffic to YouTube rather than to competitors, and also to give YouTube more leverage in business deals with content providers seeking traffic for their videos. A Google spokeswoman, Lara Levin, said there is no preference given to YouTube or any other video provider in Google search.

Congress takes aim at Google search in antitrust hearing

The Senate Judiciary Committee met to discuss tech companies unfairly favoring their own products. And Sen Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced the "Anticompetitive Exclusionary Conduct Prevention Act" to limit “exclusionary conduct” where a big company locks out smaller competitors, among other changes to antitrust law. It increases the burden of proof on monopolists to prove they’re not suppressing competition, and it discourages courts from granting immunity from antitrust enforcement.

Do Consumers Understand Google Results?

A federal appeals court grappled March 5 with whether average consumers know the difference between the ads and the organic search results that appear on Google. Arguing before the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, 1-800 Contacts — which is seeking to reverse a Federal Trade Commission decision that its trademark agreements violated antitrust law — contended that they don’t understand.

Google fined ~$166 million by France over search ads

Autorité de la concurrence, France's competition authority, fined Google €150 million ($166 million) for abusing its dominant position in online advertising. At issue are the ads that appear next to search results. France's competition authority says that Google rules governing how and when advertisers can show their ads next to search results are applied in an "unfair and random manner."

How Google Interferes With Its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results

Google has increasingly re-engineered and interfered with search results to a far greater degree than the company and its executives have acknowledged. Those actions often come in response to pressure from businesses, outside interest groups and governments around the world. They have increased sharply since the 2016 election and the rise of online misinformation. Google’s evolving approach marks a shift from its founding philosophy of “organizing the world’s information,” to one that is far more active in deciding how that information should appear.

50 US states and territories announce broad antitrust investigation of Google

Attorneys general for 50 US states and territories officially announced an antitrust investigation of Google (CA and AL are the only states that have not signed onto the probe), embarking on a wide-ranging review of a tech giant that the officials said may threaten competition, consumers and the continued growth of the web.

Keeping Thumbs Off the Scale: Nondiscrimination on Digital Platforms

Digital platforms, be they search engines like Google or marketplaces like Amazon and the Apple app store, rely on similar algorithms, which have since conditioned us to trust the top search results by virtue of the Wisdom of Crowds. But this logic assumes that the algorithms doing traffic control only discriminate based on the user’s preferences. And in recent years, reports have emerged that some of the large platforms may nudge their algorithms to favor their own results over competitors.

Google will charge search providers to be the Android default in Europe

Starting in early 2020, Google will present a new search provider choice screen to Android users in Europe when first setting up a new phone or tablet. The selection will then be the default search provider that powers the search box on the Android home screen as well as the Chrome browser if installed. Search providers will be required to pay Google each time a user selects them from the choice screen. Inclusion on the choice screen will be determined through a sealed-bid auction, with the top three bidders added alongside Google search.

Apple Dominates App Store Search Results, Thwarting Competitors

Apple’s mobile apps routinely appear first in search results ahead of competitors in its App Store, a powerful advantage that skirts some of the company’s rules on such rankings. The company’s apps ranked first in more than 60% of basic searches, such as for “maps,” the analysis showed. Apple apps that generate revenue through subscriptions or sales, like Music or Books, showed up first in 95% of searches related to those apps. This dominance gives the company an upper hand in a marketplace that generates $50 billion in annual spending.