How Google Rigs Search And Hurts Consumers

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

I’m sure all of you heard about the $2.7 billion fine imposed by the EU on Google as a result of its anti-competitive behavior, but not many of you probably know exactly what the search giant did to earn it. To shine some light on the topic, let’s take a look at a few excerpts from a recent article written by Silicon Valley antitrust lawyer Gary Reback.

Below are some choice excerpts from the piece, You Should Be Outraged at Google’s Anti-Competitive Behavior:

Before 2007, if a user searched for a product on Google, other sites listing prices for that product would appear among the general search results, ranked in the order of their quality to users. These “comparison shopping sites” were designed to identify merchants with the lowest prices. The more accurate and comprehensive their results, the higher they were ranked and the more traffic they generated.

 

But the more successful that comparison shopping sites became, the more they threatened Google’s business plan. Google makes money by selling ads placed next to its free search results, and merchants could not be expected to bid for ad placement if the listings in comparison shopping sites on the same search undercut their prices.

 

To address this, Google developed a cunning plan, the first phase of which was documented in a report by the FTC. Portions of the report were published by the Wall Street Journal more than two years ago.

 

Quoting internal Google documents and emails, the report shows that the company created a list of rival comparison shopping sites that it would artificially lower in the general search results, even though tests showed that Google users “liked the quality of the [rival] sites” and gave negative feedback on the proposed changes.

 

Google reworked its search algorithm at least four times, the documents show, and altered its established rating criteria before the proposed changes received “slightly positive” user feedback. Internal Google documents predicted that the proposed changes would reduce rivals’ user traffic up to 20 percent and subsequently reported producing the desired results once the changes were implemented.

 

At the same time, Google started putting the results from its own comparison shopping service at the top of search results. After these changes, the only source of low-price information readily available on Google’s search platform came from Google’s own comparison shopping service, known at the time as Google Product Search, which listed the lowest prices for products in its database at no charge to merchants.

 

Google’s conduct certainly hurt its rivals, particularly after a second round of search-listing demotions documented by the European Union. Many companies have been forced to lay off all of their employees and even shut down operations.

 

In 2012, Google took the extraordinary step to kill Google Product Search, replacing it with Google Shopping. This new service did not display the lowest price (or even a low price) in the general search results; rather, it displayed ads at the top of the search results page in response to the user’s search term. The ads were carefully placed by Google’s algorithms to minimize price competition among merchants, by, for example, showing ads next to each other that featured different product models at different price points.

 

Google Shopping also permitted merchants to purchase ads on a separate shopping page. Merchants — no longer promoted in search results for having lower prices — now must pay for better placement. Not surprisingly, they have raised prices to cover these costs.

 

Google’s competitors argued in a study, which I submitted to the European Commission a few years ago, that the prices in Google Shopping ads for specified products on search results pages were among the highest in Google’s database. Google’s displayed prices for everyday products, such as watches, anti-wrinkle cream and wireless routers, were roughly 50 percent higher — sometimes more — than those on rival sites. A subsequent study by a consumer protection group found similar results. A study by the Financial Times also documented the higher prices.

 

The Post’s editorial board claimed that the online availability of large merchant sites might restrain Google’s power over consumers. But those sites haven’t stopped Google from executing its plan so far. There is no denying that Google eliminated services showing the lowest prices, free to merchants, and replaced them with high-priced ads.

Some people like to blame all of the world’s problems on government.

Others blame business for everything that ever goes wrong.

I don’t fall into either of these categories. I think the greatest threat to humanity, freedom and our overall happiness comes down to concentrations of power.

Too much concentration of power within business or government ultimately leads to tyranny and oppression, and the best solution is for all of us to fight against concentrations of power in all its manifestations. Personally, I think Google has far too much power in a service as important to modern life as search, and it seems executives there are doing what always happens with concentrated power — abusing their position.

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bamawatson's picture

respectfully, to the many commenters below writing about how to avoid such-and-such; the idea of you guys being on the internet musing about how to protect your privacy is a laughable paradox

Nekoti's picture

I have no disillusion of anything I send out on the web to be safe, secure or secret. TPTB would not unleash a technology such as the web if they had no way to maintain control over it. If what I present is not to someone's liking, then they can take a flying leap, because I could care less.

jeff montanye's picture

could not care less.

if you could care less then you care somewhat right?

jmack's picture

you gig him on "not care less"  but let  "no disillusion" go?

Pairadimes's picture

Don't erase the distinction between government and corporations by equating all concentrations of power. Governments facilitate these concentrations of power by allowing the wealthiest to purchase regulatory advantage from government. And government is the entity that has the ability to use force to achieve its ends - corporations, as in the example of Google above, just need to depend on ignorant consumers to defraud.

If we had a government that actually did what it was intended to do - keep the playing field level - we would not have to worry as much about the Googles of the world. So why do we have a government we spend so much money on if they don't do what we want them to do, and instead sell their power to the highest bidder, making things even worse?

jeff montanye's picture

bust the seth rich murder then 9-11 and change the world, at least for a while.

wildbad's picture

google is ALL about ads.

their searches are absolute shit.

the first five to ten results are always ads.

and their profits go to the wapo to further scramble minds with disinfo.

and they are destroying local businesses faster than wlly world ever had

bezos is evil incanate and their motto is "don
t be evil" or some crud.

they delisted and defunded many many many liberty oriented people and enterprises. for that alone there should be anti-trust suits flooding them in every state and country.

they are manipulating peoples and gummmints and elections and receive CIA funding.

go ahead ..save five bucks. go ahead save five minutes.

on your way to the mile high pile of childrens bones

PT's picture

Grizzling about Google's practices distracts us from the greater problem.  Why can't I write my own search engine?  Why do I have to rely on someone else's algorithms?  Every man and his dog, or at least those smart enough and inclined to do so, should be writing their own search algorithms and customizing those algorithms to their own needs.  Relying on Google or any other web search will always be suboptimal.  No different from going into a restaurant and finding nothing on the menu that you would like to eat.  At least the restaurant has a decent excuse.  They have to optimize the chef's time and their ingredient inventory.  Your computer does not have these problems.  It's a bloody computer, for $@#&* sake.  You can make it do anything.

Google search has always been sub-optimal.  I have met the edge of the internet several times - not just with Google but with other search engines too.  "Edge of the internet"?  Example: a few simple search terms yield 6 results, two of which have nothing to do with your problem and four of which are in a foreign language and totally unhelpful.

Not quite as bad as (because it is less time-consuming) 50 000 000 results, the first few are ads, and then the results gradually deviate away from the topic at hand till very quickly the next few pages become totally irrelevant to your original search.  How many times have you ended up scratching your head thinking, "How can those fifty results POSSIBLY be further up the list than any answers to my actual problem?"

The next problem is when a small signal is totally swamped by a larger signal nearby - a bit like the way radios can jump frequencies to a nearby stronger signal so you miss out on the broadcast from a different station because it's signal strength is too weak.  For example, if you want to know anything even vaguely related to human fat cells then you're going to end up with a million websites trying to sell you some weight loss solution.  If a search term is anywhere related to some flavour-of-the-month celebrity gossip then all other information is ignored in favour of the celebrity gossip.  Hint for the pros:  Sometimes it is easier to find information about famous people by mentioning certain words than it is by mentioning them by name.  Google is definitely censored, big time, and this CAN be a way around it.  Try it.  Mention famous person the media hates, see what results come up, mention words related to them but without naming them specifically, then see what results come up.

Does anyone remember any of the old, innocent search terms that would direct you to porn sites?  I can't remember the phrase but it was more innocent than "hump" or "jump".  Was that a glitch or was there something else behind it?

The fact that Google is as big as it is, is proof that something is wrong.
Competition?  What's that?  Opt out?  What's that?

P.S.
images:
american married couple
american couple fighting
european people art
american business person

Have those searches changed yet?  Or do they still yield the same results as what they did a couple of years ago?

Peanut Butter Engineer's picture

People here used to root for amazon while dissing walmart, what's the sudden change that's making you so hateful towards amazon?

All Risk No Reward's picture

Big Government and Big Business are FINANCED AND CONTROLLED by the very same group of people - the Debt-Money Monopolists.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The division between the two political parties is Kabuki theater for the unwitting.

They are monolithic when it comes to AGENDA CONTINUITY.

yogibear's picture

A backlash against google and facebook is the right thing to happen.

hannah's picture

concentration of power....kinda like the gov fining google billions...AND KEEPING THE FUCKING MONEY. LOL

goober's picture

Here is the real deal most people including ZHers are more or less oblivious to. Not only Google, but all of the internet main mechanisms like FB and all the main players are simply control mechanisms created by our government. All of what we call social media is a control mechanism , just as your I=phone and every other electronic device is !

http://www.downtoearththinking.com/our-government-created-google-and-fac...

I do not use google ads or any other ads because I know how it all works and why. It is a question of ethics to me and I resent the cooky cutter appearance of nearly all web sites and their never ending marketing of junk. I prefer to give good ideas and speficific information about how to live and think in a far better manner that is usable today !

The internet is a double edge sword. There is all manner of info available, and it is also a control mechansism created for that purpose deliberately. PRAVDA/MSM is also part of this deep state apparatus that controls us

Bigly's picture

Who still uses google for searching?

Scrimpy's picture

Joogle....for the new world order!

E-Knight's picture

Be aware that facebook, youtube etc routinely engage in 'shadow banning' or blocking comments so that others dont see them, but you don't realize you have been banned yet.

This is of course outside of their regular 'anti hate' censorship.

Bigly's picture

Again, who is using fbook and twitter at this point? YT gas gone way downhill in the last year.

Gab.ai

Nekoti's picture

Do not use either. Any public forum that request personal info, imo, needs to be avoided.

Peanut Butter Engineer's picture

You can easily get around the ban by posting one regular non-inflammatory word as comment, then once that's posted, you go back and edit that with what you want to say. Works every time.

goober's picture

They all censor in various ways and get away with it because they own the franchises to do so. They are all control mechanisms and nothng else.  see my cmment above with the link for all the details and clarity.

I get censored 24/7/365 in various ways, nothing new at all. That is why I refuse to play their game by their rules.  

Chupacabra-322's picture

@ Bigly,

Haven't used that Criminal Goolge / Pure Evil CIA Psychopath search engine in years.

Startpage.com

Bigly's picture

Been using duckduckgo for years at this point...

I will look at your suggestion. Thx

meditate_vigorously's picture

duckduckgo is yahoo, supposedly without the data collection.

dgolcher's picture

So what would be the issue if it is yahoo with privacy? Google is no longer and has not been the best search algo for ages now.

goober's picture

Yahoo is part of PRAVDA/MSM and always has been. nothing new there. IX Quick is also confidential

LoveTruth's picture

use yandex.com for searches

Eugend66's picture

“Every year, we’ve grown 200-500%,” Weinberg says. “The numbers keep getting bigger.” As of early February, DuckDuckGo was seeing more than 4 million search queries per day. One year ago, that number had just barely broken 1 million."

https://www.fastcompany.com/3026698/inside-duckduckgo-googles-tiniest-fi...

Peace.

nati's picture

DuckDuckGo founder (((Gabe Weinberg))) sez "Don't worry goyim, your search info is safe with us"!

goober's picture

That doesn't make them good guys , they are all part of the deep state and PRAVDA/MSM like Zuckerberg , cucks to the corrupted system many call communications. It is all a giant control mechanism.

meditate_vigorously's picture

start page uses googles search engine, it just supposedly doesn't track you like google. It is still google, only slower.

JLee2027's picture

Startpage.com

 

Gives identical results to google. 

You've been punked

Sokhmate's picture

I keep reading "haven't used google search .... etc"

Others keep suggesting startpage or duckduckgo, which, the last I checked, are using google search, minus tracking or some such.

I keep recommending yandex, which, as far as I know is not evil, or as evil, as google.

Have been using it for almost a year now. Haven't really missed google.

I do use google for technical stuff, sometimes. And yandex some other times. Both provide good results.

meditate_vigorously's picture

Even the few who ostensibly respect your privacy use google or yahoo on the backend.

I am unaware of any search engine besides google, yahoo, or bing that are completely independent of those 3.

Bigly's picture

I believe DDG is yahoo or derived.

This is a good point.

Anyone know of a true search engine, not tinkered by Social engineers and nwo commies?

FoggyWorld's picture

A while ago I read it's a layered approach that does use other data bases out there including google.

RedBaron616's picture

No, DDG has their own search engine.

ebworthen's picture

DuckDuckGo and deselect Google.

FoggyWorld's picture

And someone here recommended:  camelcamelcamel  which does comparative pricing against Amazon.   I tried it and it works.

Mr Pink's picture

This is what life has become. Survival is based onn how well youcan game the algorithms.

I make a living selling on Ebay and their search algos are constantly adjusting search results so that Ebay can make the most money.

Some months I can barely keep up with the sales and sometimes it seems like someone turned off a switch

Bigly's picture

Feast or famine is no way to plan a business

Find other channels to sell that aren't so algo reliant.

 

Starve that beast 

 

Mr Pink's picture

If you haven't noticed, algos control everything. We are at their mercy. 

I would have to run a lemonade stand to avoid them

Bigly's picture

Sickenly, yes.

But one company towns are risky. One vendor/client business are risky.

Try some diversification if you can to blunt the big swings.

Shpedly's picture

I empathize completely. To be a seller on Ebay is brutal. Between their fees and Paypals, you get killed.

RedBaron616's picture

eBay is all about big sellers now. They have successfully almost squeezed out the little guy. I used to take checks all the time from good buyers. Now there's an additional PayPal fee. A lot of stuff I would have sold on eBay now goes to Goodwill. 

NotApplicable's picture

Without central banking, the power to abuse is limited by scarcity of capital.

. . . _ _ _ . . .'s picture

There are lots of alternatives to the big G.

Duck Duck Go et al.

I don't use 'Google' as a verb anymore. Now I say 'search.'

Time to change your browser's home page, people.