How Google Gets Away With Theft and Cooking the Search Results

33 replies
Two articles say it all. First, this morning the Wall Street Journal is releasing a scathing FTC internal report finding that Google repeatedly broke the law by stealing content from other websites and using it as its own, keeping customers from using competitors services, and cooking the search results to intentionally demote competitors with better offerings in favor of its own poorer services - such as travel comparison sites:

How Google Skewed Search Results - WSJ

However, despite the findings, and despite Google's CEO potentially committing perjury before Congress, the FTC declined to sue,

Cue the second article, which reports how during this time Google was furiously pumping money "aimed at lawmakers, the White House and federal agencies."

Google

Now, note the following from the Wall Street Journal, an argument Google also used to avoid legal action:

Google has said that promoting its own specialized-search services gets more information to users more quickly. That’s more important in the smartphone age when clicking back and forth from a search page can be frustrating.
Really. Allowing consumers to click to your website is a bad experience. Instead, they should stay on Google.

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#cooking #google #results #search #theft
  • Profile picture of the author Smeltzer
    Congrats you discovered how politics is done.

    The banks where laundering money for the drug cartels. They got busted. They paid off some people and where only ordered to pay a fine.

    Google cooked search results. Pay off some politicians. Everything is fine.

    Microsoft anti-trust- No worries Bill boy has billions just use it to pay off some politicians and once again everything is fine.

    Can not compete with online competition? No worries pay of the government to go after safe-harbor host. - Kim Dotcom and others.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sarevok
    Are you trying to suggest that those in power abuse it?

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  • Profile picture of the author nicheblogger75
    Why doesn't any of this surprise me? If you internally investigated just about every large corporation in America you would undoubtedly find similar results. I'm not saying it's right or trying to condone it. I'm just saying that's reality. Those with money and power run the show.
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  • Profile picture of the author BillyParadise
    Why would google do something that is not in its' own interest? If I go to google to search for something, I find it entirely reasonable that google will give me the results that are in their best interest to display.

    if you listen to a radio station, will they promote an event which is cosponsored by their competition?

    Google ain't run by the government - it's not a publicly owned utility. Some people think it is, and need to be reminded.
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    • Profile picture of the author Christopher Fox
      Originally Posted by BillyParadise View Post

      Why would google do something that is not in its' own interest? If I go to google to search for something, I find it entirely reasonable that google will give me the results that are in their best interest to display.
      There is a difference between doing something in your own interest, and then lying and manipulating things. None of which is in Google's supposed best interest - their end user. They are lying to the end user on the SERPS relative to their stated goal of providing the user the best results for the USER, not the Google's back pocket. The OP seems to think that that CEO of Google potentially committed perjury.

      That is taking lying to a new degree and is a criminal act. One which Google bought its way out of. Yea, spare me your Free Market banter and what 'some people need to be reminded of'. I'm a Libertarian at heart, but a REALIST.

      Google ain't run by the government - it's not a publicly owned utility. Some people think it is, and need to be reminded.
      Back to the where your idealism runs into a brick wall in the real world are things like monopolies. If you think power only centralizes in governments and that governments are the only entities that can infringe upon your personal liberties and freedom, you are sadly mistaken.

      Like it or not, at times monopolies need to be regulated. Many people in America have their electricity supplied by private companies. The government controls the price these private companies can charge - cause they have a monopoly and if they didn't, a bunch of greedy folks would make it so you could only afford to run your computer 4 hours a day - for it would be too expensive otherwise.

      Your are kidding yourself if you think International Corporations and Monopolies are not a threat to you that need to be watched by somebody, usually somebodies in a, yes, corrupt government.

      Google is more powerful than a whole bunch of countries on this globe. Yes, you need protection from any entity that big, with that much power, cause they'll steamroll yer ass without thinking twice, even as you are out in the streets with your sign, protesting big bad government getting involved in private industry.

      Google cares about you and your rights waaaaaaaay less than you seem to righteously care about theirs. And to just label an entity as monsterous and powerful as Google as 'just another private business, like my neighbor Joe and his lawn mowing business', is ridiculous.

      Nothing in life is black and white, including political idealogies that instinctively, and incorrectly, compel you to root and cheer for Google to do whatever the hell they want because you think they are 'just another private sector business', with no more power over society than Joe's Lawn Care Service.
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      • Profile picture of the author rhinocl
        That's only round one. Any one whose business was hurt may try to use those findings as the basis for a lawsuit.
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      • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
        Originally Posted by Christopher Fox View Post

        There is a difference between doing something in your own interest, and then lying and manipulating things. None of which is in Google's supposed best interest - their end user. They are lying to the end user on the SERPS relative to their stated goal of providing the user the best results for the USER, not the Google's back pocket. The OP seems to think that that CEO of Google potentially committed perjury.

        That is taking lying to a new degree and is a criminal act. One which Google bought its way out of. Yea, spare me your Free Market banter and what 'some people need to be reminded of'. I'm a Libertarian at heart, but a REALIST.

        Back to the where your idealism runs into a brick wall in the real world are things like monopolies. If you think power only centralizes in governments and that governments are the only entities that can infringe upon your personal liberties and freedom, you are sadly mistaken.

        Like it or not, at times monopolies need to be regulated. Many people in America have their electricity supplied by private companies. The government controls the price these private companies can charge - cause they have a monopoly and if they didn't, a bunch of greedy folks would make it so you could only afford to run your computer 4 hours a day - for it would be too expensive otherwise.

        Your are kidding yourself if you think International Corporations and Monopolies are not a threat to you that need to be watched by somebody, usually somebodies in a, yes, corrupt government.

        Google is more powerful than a whole bunch of countries on this globe. Yes, you need protection from any entity that big, with that much power, cause they'll steamroll yer ass without thinking twice, even as you are out in the streets with your sign, protesting big bad government getting involved in private industry.

        Google cares about you and your rights waaaaaaaay less than you seem to righteously care about theirs. And to just label an entity as monsterous and powerful as Google as 'just another private business, like my neighbor Joe and his lawn mowing business', is ridiculous.

        Nothing in life is black and white, including political idealogies that instinctively, and incorrectly, compel you to root and cheer for Google to do whatever the hell they want because you think they are 'just another private sector business', with no more power over society than Joe's Lawn Care Service.
        You said you're a libertarian but sound nothing like one LOL.

        I still don't understand why this is an issue. Why DOES government want to get involved?

        I don't see how what they're doing is illegal. If you go to a grocery store, it's in the store's best interest to recommend products they carry instead of going to the competitor down the street.

        Ah... oh well, whatever.
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  • Profile picture of the author Slade556
    This isn't news, if you think about it. It's clear that Google will always be in favor of Google The rest of the world will either be at their mercy "or else", it's kind of how the system works..
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  • Profile picture of the author Sid Hale
    FYI -

    Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

    However, despite the findings, and despite Google's CEO potentially committing perjury before Congress, the FTC declined to sue,

    Cue the second article, which reports how during this time Google was furiously pumping money "aimed at lawmakers, the White House and federal agencies."

    Google
    That Bloomberg article is a little over 2 years old.

    Not saying it isn't relevant, but is it?
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    • Profile picture of the author discrat
      Google owns the World, didn't you know that
      Of course this has been going on for quite some time. Nothing really new


      - Robert Andrew
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  • Profile picture of the author kk075
    Name one business that doesn't look out for their own best interests, and I'll show you a business that's failing. Of course Google has widgets for travel and other popular categories and of course they please them above Travelocity and Orbitz. How can this be a surprise to anyone?

    And since I've booked a few flights with Google recently, I can also say that it was more convenient from my smartphone as well. They streamlined the process better than any of the travel sites so it's not a lie and this is a non-story. Just try booking a flight and see for yourself; you can backspace 50 times on other sites looking at different flight options, or you can see everything at once within the Google widget.
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  • Profile picture of the author tyronne78
    I'm no lawyer but I don't see how this could be illegal. Maybe I'm a bit naive but isn't it their search engine?
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve B
    Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

    However, despite the findings, and despite Google's CEO potentially committing perjury before Congress, the FTC declined to sue.

    It's the business world's version of the Golden Rule: He that has the gold rules.

    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author ronrule
    I don't see why any of this is even up for discussion...

    Let's say you owned a software company, and you make five or six products. When someone lands on your site, should you be allowed to showcase your products? Or should you be forced by the hand of government to also showcase your competitors products?

    Does this somehow magically change if you have millions of customers?

    Google can do what they want. It's their search engine, and they have no obligation to be impartial. Their product/information offering can be whatever they choose for it to be.
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    • Originally Posted by ronrule View Post

      I don't see why any of this is even up for discussion...
      Yup, I agree. Those who don't like Google, or wish to tolerate them, do not have to use their search engine or any of their products. But I also don't see why any of this is up for discussion...
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      • Profile picture of the author Kay King
        It's not illegal until the govt decides it's in OUR best interests to make illegal - then usually what happens is it gets worse, not better.

        Anyone that doesn't realize much of what happens economically and in big business is directly related to how much money flows through lobbyists...hasn't been paying attention.
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    • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
      Originally Posted by ronrule View Post

      I don't see why any of this is even up for discussion...

      Let's say you owned a software company, and you make five or six products. When someone lands on your site, should you be allowed to showcase your products? Or should you be forced by the hand of government to also showcase your competitors products?

      Does this somehow magically change if you have millions of customers?

      Google can do what they want. It's their search engine, and they have no obligation to be impartial. Their product/information offering can be whatever they choose for it to be.
      Ron, I'll tell you why. It is because there are laws and there are reasons for the laws. If you don't like a law that is one thing. Otherwise, for online marketers who have to deal with Google every day it is wise to understand what is happening so you can evaluate your business and potential threats.

      *** If you're stuck on whether there are any limits to what anyone can do you've missed the big picture of the post, where Google is heading, and the potential impact on millions of website owners, including many on this forum ***

      Example: If you don't agree there should be copyright law that is your opinion. Until then, since we have a copyright law, if someone steals your hard work, you complain, and the response is submit to our theft or we will put you out of business - um, ok, if you're fine with that what can I say.

      Similar example: I come up to you and say give me your wallet. You complain. I up the ante and say your wallet or your life. What, it's my handgun and I can do whatever I want with it? Why should big brother be telling me what I can do and can't do with my gun?

      You can't say Google can do whatever they want with their search engine. Re-read the issues. Google is accused of stealing content from other businesses to put on its search engine, and then telling victims if they don't like it they will be dropped from the search index. A search index Google has fraudulently been representing is not susceptible to such manual adjustments.

      Example: If you don't agree there should be antitrust laws that is your opinion. Until then, since have antitrust laws, if someone has 80% of the market and leverages that market share to put you out of business in a different market - again, if you're fine with that then that's your position.

      Ron, let's be more specific....

      What if Google came to an online business you're familiar with: As Seen On TV, and said: We want 50 percent of your net profits and we want you to terminate your relationship with Ron Rule. If you don't agree within the next 4 hours asseenontv.com will never get another visitor from Google search and will be banned from Adwords and other Google properties.

      Does that get your attention about what has been going on and why these are important issues?

      Or is that fine with you because Google can do what they want with their search engine? After all, Google has built up a great business. Why shouldn't it get 50 percent of the profits from online businesses freeloading on its search business?

      .
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      • Profile picture of the author ronrule
        Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

        Ron, I'll tell you why. It is because there are laws and there are reasons for the laws. If you don't like a law that is one thing. Otherwise, for online marketers who have to deal with Google every day it is wise to understand what is happening so you can evaluate your business and potential threats.

        *** If you're stuck on whether there are any limits to what anyone can do you've missed the big picture of the post, where Google is heading, and the potential impact on millions of website owners, including many on this forum ***

        Example: If you don't agree there should be copyright law that is your opinion. Until then, since we have a copyright law, if someone steals your hard work, you complain, and the response is submit to our theft or we will put you out of business - um, ok, if you're fine with that what can I say.

        Similar example: I come up to you and say give me your wallet. You complain. I up the ante and say your wallet or your life. What, it's my handgun and I can do whatever I want with it? Why should big brother be telling me what I can do and can't do with my gun?

        You can't say Google can do whatever they want with their search engine. Re-read the issues. Google is accused of stealing content from other businesses to put on its search engine, and then telling victims if they don't like it they will be dropped from the search index. A search index Google has fraudulently been representing is not susceptible to such manual adjustments.

        Example: If you don't agree there should be antitrust laws that is your opinion. Until then, since have antitrust laws, if someone has 80% of the market and leverages that market share to put you out of business in a different market - again, if you're fine with that then that's your position.
        You're trying to apply physical-world logic to a digital one. There's no such thing as market control on the Internet - if a company owns 80% of a market, it's because 80% of consumers are CHOOSING it. Consumers aren't forced to use Google, they choose to. Businesses aren't forced to have their sites indexed, they choose to.

        If you don't want Google to index your content and display it, they won't - and, as a result, you won't be in their search engine. If Google was indexing content even after the owner of such content demanded they stopped, that would be a different issue. But that's not what is happening here - Google has basically said "This is who we are, this is what we do, these are our rules. If you're cool with that, come on in. If not, don't bother us." That's their right.

        Think about it this way... Let's say you run an art shop, where you let local artists sell their work. Maybe you take a percentage of the sale, maybe you don't, that's up to you. But you own the space. Now, some local artist who's kind of a douche, says he wants to use your space to sell his art, but he doesn't want to cut you in on the deal, and he doesn't want you to actually display his art. He just wants to stand in your shop and be able to talk to people who are interested in art, then escort them outside to try and sell them his work. And let's say you're the biggest art shop in a 1,000 mile radius, with 1,000 times the traffic volume of any other art shop. You're basically THE destination where art buyers go.

        Should you be forced by the hand of government to allow this artist to do business the way HE wants to, inside YOUR building, with no benefit to you? Or should you have the right to tell the artist "These are my rules. Play by them, or leave."

        Because you're basically saying Google shouldn't have that right. That doesn't seem very fair... it's not your call or the government's call who they choose to do business with or what the terms of that engagement are, it's theirs.

        Now let's take that same argument to the web... you run the largest online art store. 80% of the art buying online happens through you. Should you be legally mandated to link to other sites that sell art? Somehow I think - at least I hope - your answer would be no.


        Ron, let's be more specific....

        What if Google came to an online business you're familiar with: As Seen On TV, and said: We want 50 percent of your net profits and we want you to terminate your relationship with Ron Rule. If you don't agree within the next 4 hours asseenontv.com will never get another visitor from Google search and will be banned from Adwords and other Google properties.

        Does that get your attention about what has been going on and why these are important issues?

        Or is that fine with you because Google can do what they want with their search engine? After all, Google has built up a great business. Why shouldn't it get 50 percent of the profits from online businesses freeloading on its search business?
        I'll tell you what - I'll entertain this strawman argument, but in order to do that we have to separate it into two questions:

        1. Does Google have the right to demand percentage of revenue in exchange for a link from their search engine.
        2. Does Google have the right to deny service to someone due to a personal dislike of who they associate with.

        The first one is easy: Yes, of course Google has that right if they want to. This is exactly the model of Amazon, Walmart, and every other retail business. If I want to sell my products on Amazon, I either have to pay them 15% as a vendor, or I have to sell them product at 40% below retail. If I don't want to sell them product for 40% below retail, or I don't want to pay them 15% of my sales, then I don't get to be on their eCommerce site. Same goes for Walmart... if I don't want to fit into their model, then my products don't get in their stores. So yes, Google absolutely would have the right to deny a link to my site if I wasn't willing to cut them in on the profits, just like any other company would. Remember, they aren't magically "blocking me from the web" - they aren't taking my server offline, or using their magic powers to make my website stop working - they're just not linking to my site from their site. They, and every other website owner, has the right to decide who they will and won't link to.

        As for the second part, it's a slightly more complicated answer, but it's ultimately "yes" too. Here's why: because a company should never be forced to do business with an individual they don't want to do business with. Ever. Doing so undermines the most basic principle of freedom. Have you ever refused service to a customer? Maybe not for anything so obvious, like they're a convicted felon or a terrorist or something, but maybe you just didn't want them as a customer. Maybe you don't like who some of their friends are. Whatever your reason, should you be forced by the hand of government to do business with them anyway? If you really think you should, perhaps a free country isn't the place for you.
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        • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
          Originally Posted by ronrule View Post

          a company should never be forced to do business with an individual they don't want to do business with. Ever. Doing so undermines the most basic principle of freedom. .... Whatever your reason, should you be forced by the hand of government to do business with them anyway? If you really think you should, perhaps a free country isn't the place for you.
          Ron, as I said, if you don't like laws that's your opinion. Otherwise, we need to discuss Google's conduct within the context of existing laws.

          Do you have a problem with laws prohibiting race, gender, ethnic, religious, etc., discrimination - all of which force Person A to do business with B?

          You won't find a country in the world following your construct. Per your definition there is not, and never has been a free country. Just think of everything the government forces you to do. Wear clothes. Pay taxes. Be licensed to drive a car. Be a juror. It just goes on and on.

          We'll just have to disagree that it is OK for Google to strong arm 50% of your company's profits or be nuked in its search listings.

          .
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          • Profile picture of the author ronrule
            Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

            Ron, as I said, if you don't like laws that's your opinion. Otherwise, we need to discuss Google's conduct within the context of existing laws.

            Do you have a problem with laws prohibiting race, gender, ethnic, religious, etc., discrimination - all of which force Person A to do business with B?

            You won't find a country in the world following your construct. Per your definition there is not, and never has been a free country. Just think of everything the government forces you to do. Wear clothes. Pay taxes. Be licensed to drive a car. Be a juror. It just goes on and on.

            We'll just have to disagree that it is OK for Google to strong arm 50% of your company's profits or be nuked in its search listings.

            .
            Your example wasn't talking about a group, it was talking about an individual. All of your group examples are protected classes, thus it would absolutely be illegal to discriminate based on that criteria.

            However, it's not illegal to discriminate based on non-protected criteria, nor is it illegal to discriminate against an individual, providing your reasons for such discrimination have nothing to do with a protected class.

            For example:

            If I wanted to deny service to an individual "because they're black", I couldn't legally do that. Race is a protected class.

            If I wanted to deny service to an individual "because they have tattoos", I could legally do that, because "the tattooed" are not a protected class.

            If I wanted to deny service to an individual because they're a douche rocket and I don't like them, and they happened to be black, but the fact that they're black had nothing to do with my desire to not provide service, I could legally do that, because douche rockets are not a protected class.

            See the difference? So let's move past the strawman argument and get back to the point, which is whether or not Google has the right to include/exclude websites from their search engine at will.

            So the question remains: What gives you the right to tell a website owner they have to link to you?

            Specifically, what gives you the right to define the TERMS under which a website owner must link to you?

            And more specifically, why would you apply these terms to Google, but not to Amazon? Why do you think Google should have to link to a site with a competing product, but Amazon shouldn't?
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            • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
              Originally Posted by ronrule View Post

              Your example wasn't talking about a group, it was talking about an individual. All of your group examples are protected classes, thus it would absolutely be illegal to discriminate based on that criteria.
              Ahh, it is OK for the government to have laws and restrict "freedoms". You had me worried. So you agree a company has to act within the law and, example, not act (discriminate) for reasons the govt has said are unlawful.

              One law that also restrictions actions is called anti-trust, and it means a company can have a monopoly. If Google gets 100% of the search traffic because it has the best service, good for Google. Perfectly legal.

              However, if a company abuses that power and tells you Ron, you have to turn over the copyright to your website if you want to continue receiving search traffic, or you have to pay 50% of your profits, or you have to turn over your first born, etc, it is unlawful and causes obvious harm the FTC is supposed to prevent.

              It isn't like Amazon who is taking a cut of sales, or requiring a fee to be a merchant on its site. If Google wanted to require an old Yahoo like directory fee to stay in the Google index it could do so.

              The difference is when a company steps outside of their monopoly and uses it to abusively target a different market.

              Another example: if Google were to leverage its search monopoly to tell Freelancer, hey, we want to own the Warrior Forum. Turn it over and we'll pay everyone a minimum wage to keep it running - or else you're out of Google - that is abusing the search monopoly to leverage into a different industry.

              No one has said Google has to link to a competing product, eg Bing, or show Bing results.

              .
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              • Profile picture of the author ronrule
                Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

                One law that also restrictions actions is called anti-trust, and it means a company can have a monopoly. If Google gets 100% of the search traffic because it has the best service, good for Google. Perfectly legal.

                However, if a company abuses that power and tells you Ron, you have to turn over the copyright to your website if you want to continue receiving search traffic, or you have to pay 50% of your profits, or you have to turn over your first born, etc, it is unlawful and causes obvious harm the FTC is supposed to prevent.
                The flaw in your theory is you're forgetting the fact that Google was the source of the traffic in the first place.

                Google isn't classified as a utility by the FTC, so they aren't legally obligated to include your site in the search results. Therefore, the criteria they decide upon to determine who they link to is entirely their own. Any "loss of traffic" due to exclusion from Google isn't a "loss" at all, it was never your traffic, it was theirs. They can choose to send that traffic to you, or send it to your competitor. Their choice, not yours.

                If you run a business, and I decide I like you and I'm going to refer people to your business, you don't get to sue me claiming losses and damages if I decide I want to stop referring people to your business.

                And as far as anti-trust/monopoly laws go, understand the spirit of these laws: they were written and passed long before anyone ever conceived the Internet and are based largely on physical barriers.

                You don't need Google to operate. In my industry - about $250 billion per year when you add it all up - only about $7 million of it came by way of Google keyword searches. That's because the model is based on reaching consumers in other places, such as when they're watching TV or shopping in retail stores. When we advertise a website, people type in the domain, it doesn't matter whether the site is in Google or not.

                That's a perfect example of why Google, no matter how much of the search market they have, can never be a monopoly in the traditional sense. Because you can operate without them. Any benefit you happen to receive as a result of being in their results is just that - a benefit. You have no right to expect or demand it, any more than I have a right to demand you link to my site. Google is not a utility, they're a for-profit business. They don't have to be impartial.

                It isn't like Amazon who is taking a cut of sales, or requiring a fee to be a merchant on its site. If Google wanted to require an old Yahoo like directory fee to stay in the Google index it could do so.

                The difference is when a company steps outside of their monopoly and uses it to abusively target a different market.

                Another example: if Google were to leverage its search monopoly to tell Freelancer, hey, we want to own the Warrior Forum. Turn it over and we'll pay everyone a minimum wage to keep it running - or else you're out of Google - that is abusing the search monopoly to leverage into a different industry.

                No one has said Google has to link to a competing product, eg Bing, or show Bing results
                Search is just one of many products in Google's portfolio. Their "target market" is whatever they want it to be based on the type of products they choose to create or acquire. And yes, they would be well within their rights to block Warrior Forum. Why wouldn't they? You keep talking about laws, but there is no law that says Google is obligated to index sites and send them free traffic. None. So again, any "loss of traffic" to WF as a result of a Google ban isn't a loss at all - it was never WF's traffic, it was Google's. Google simply chose not to send their traffic to WF.

                A Google ban wouldn't stop you and I from coming here. It wouldn't prevent WarriorForum from operating. It wouldn't make their thousands of registered users unable to access the site. All that would change is they would no longer get free traffic from Google. That free traffic is a bonus, not an entitlement.
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                • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
                  Originally Posted by ronrule View Post

                  Google isn't classified as a utility by the FTC, so they aren't legally obligated to include your site in the search results. Therefore, the criteria they decide upon to determine who they link to is entirely their own. Any "loss of traffic" due to exclusion from Google isn't a "loss" at all, it was never your traffic, it was theirs. They can choose to send that traffic to you, or send it to your competitor. Their choice, not yours.
                  Your argument breaks down pretty badly when you consider that Google advertises and claims to give the most relevant and quality results so no they cannot send traffic wherever they wish and not be guilty of false advertising.

                  The analogy of other website, yours and mine, leaves out that central and important fact. My site does not advertise to link only to the best websites on the net by qualitative factors. I link to who I wish in part because I am not a search engine. Its an apples and oranges comparison. In fact even on review sites theres an obligation to divulge when there is a financial connection. Consumer Reports would get into serious legal issues claiming not be objective but "linking to where they want" because its their magazine. If Google did not incessantly claim to give the most relevant sites on the net for a search term then you might have had a good point.

                  As for your claim that we give permission for Google to crawl and include our site ( and even potentially to take content to show on their own site)? Its patently false. Its akin to claiming that if I do not lock my door (edit htaccess or robots.txt) that anyone can open my door and take what they want.

                  Search engines by their very business model and Google in particular claims a certain level of objectivity. You can't say that if Google just inserts links in the organic column with no warning as to it being ad based theres no intent to mislead the public and no violation of what they advertise so the claim they can link to whoever they wish wherever they link is not accurate.
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                  • Profile picture of the author ronrule
                    Originally Posted by Mike Anthony View Post

                    Your argument breaks down pretty badly when you consider that Google advertises and claims to give the most relevant and quality results so no they cannot send traffic wherever they wish and not be guilty of false advertising.
                    Sure they can - "relevance" and "quality" are subjective terms, subject to their discretion. Take a phrase like "vaccination controversy" for example. Is a news article on the subject truly more relevant than a conspiracy site claiming vaccines will make you grow five heads? Probably... yet both can appear in the results.

                    Google could, at its sole discretion, decide that it didn't want to include the kooky conspiracy sites in the results because it didn't feel the information met their quality standard.

                    But they could also argue the opposite just as well - that even though those sites may not be the quality of content they're hoping for, they are relevant - those could be exactly what the visitor is intending to search for.

                    The point is that since both "quality" and "relevance" are subjective, Google can include/exclude at will while claiming one or the other (quality or relevance) is the reason for the inclusion/exclusion.

                    The analogy of other website, yours and mine, leaves out that central and important fact. My site does not advertise to link only to the best websites on the net by qualitative factors. I link to who I wish in part because I am not a search engine. Its an apples and oranges comparison. In fact even on review sites theres an obligation to divulge when there is a financial connection. Consumer Reports would get into serious legal issues claiming not be objective but "linking to where they want" because its their magazine. If Google did not incessantly claim to give the most relevant sites on the net for a search term then you might have had a good point.
                    Remember we're talking about Google's own rules here - which is key. Google decided those were their rules, and Google can decide if they want to change them or make exceptions. No governing body made that decision for them. The decision whether to be impartial or not is their own decision to make, not a legal mandate. If impartiality was an FTC requirement, then Google wouldn't be allowed to ban websites for their linking strategies, couldn't classify a site as part of a "bad neighborhood", couldn't claim that content on a site was "suspicious" and warn the user before allowing them to click through, or block the site from the results, unless the FTC had made that determination.

                    Website owners have challenged Google in court on these things multiple times, and Google has always come out victorious, because ultimately their site = their rules.

                    As for your claim that we give permission for Google to crawl and include our site ( and even potentially to take content to show on their own site)? Its patently false. Its akin to claiming that if I do not lock my door (edit htaccess or robots.txt) that anyone can open my door and take what they want.
                    I'm actually in 100% agreement with you on this, but that's a separate issue - whether Google should have the right to scrape content without an "invitation" from the site owner is a separate debate. And you already know my thoughts on this; I find it ironic that they make every effort to ban and diminish "scraper sites" when technically they themselves are the largest scraper site on the web.

                    But that's not what's up for debate right now - what we're discussing is whether Google has the right to say "We can use your content on OUR site, and if you want us to stop then we will, but we'll also stop linking to your site."

                    Technically speaking, Google is playing by their own rules in that regard. Those are the terms of being included in the search results. They won't continue to display your content if you opt out of being in the search results. If they did continue to display your content after you opted out, then you would have a case against Google. But deciding to pick and choose from Google's policies - ie, saying Google can't use our content on their site but demanding they still link to us in the results - that isn't our call to make, it's Google's.

                    Search engines by their very business model and Google in particular claims a certain level of objectivity. You can't say that if Google just inserts links in the organic column with no warning as to it being ad based theres no intent to mislead the public and no violation of what they advertise so the claim they can link to whoever they wish wherever they link is not accurate.
                    Sure, that's true. But let's pretend for a moment that a legit site that's clearly the most relevant result for some keyword decided they were going to buy advertising via a bunch of Fiverr backlinks. And let's say for the sake of argument that they did this not understanding the implications and SEO was the furthest thing from their mind.

                    Google reserves the right to ban them from this action. But if they block that site - the indisputably most relevant site for the search phrase - is Google breaking their policy of delivering the most relevant results? On that section alone, yes... But since quality, content, and linking strategies are also part of their scoring, and those are subjective, they can do so without violating their own prime directive.

                    Either way, the end result is that Google legally CAN police the content they display, and set their own terms for inclusion/exclusion. So if one of those terms happens to be "We reserve the right to use your content on our site, and if you aren't cool with that then we don't have to link to you." then they're within their rights to do so.
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  • Profile picture of the author ronrule
    The government never does what's in our best interests... they do what's in theirs.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      Why DOES government want to get involved?
      One word: control
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      Every child needs a pet because every family needs an optimist

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    • Profile picture of the author discrat
      Originally Posted by ronrule View Post

      The government never does what's in our best interests... they do what's in theirs.
      We are the Government, at least in the US


      - Robert Andrew
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  • Profile picture of the author Claire Koch
    where does a ten pound elephant sit? Any where it wants
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  • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
    Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

    Two articles say it all. First, this morning the Wall Street Journal is releasing a scathing FTC internal report finding that Google repeatedly broke the law by stealing content from other websites and using it as its own, keeping customers from using competitors services, and cooking the search results to intentionally demote competitors with better offerings in favor of its own poorer services - such as travel comparison sites:

    How Google Skewed Search Results - WSJ
    The WSJ may well have a point about Google, but I can't access the article without subscribing or logging in.

    Abuse of power, I call it.

    .
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  • Profile picture of the author humbledmarket
    Banned
    Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

    Two articles say it all. First, this morning the Wall Street Journal is releasing a scathing FTC internal report finding that Google repeatedly broke the law by stealing content from other websites and using it as its own, keeping customers from using competitors services, and cooking the search results to intentionally demote competitors with better offerings in favor of its own poorer services - such as travel comparison sites:

    How Google Skewed Search Results - WSJ

    However, despite the findings, and despite Google's CEO potentially committing perjury before Congress, the FTC declined to sue,

    Cue the second article, which reports how during this time Google was furiously pumping money "aimed at lawmakers, the White House and federal agencies."

    Google

    Now, note the following from the Wall Street Journal, an argument Google also used to avoid legal action:



    Really. Allowing consumers to click to your website is a bad experience. Instead, they should stay on Google.

    .
    Very interesting read, going to bookmark it for later.

    I've gone through a recent article about a mobile platform taking on Google directly. This will surely be something interesting to watch. A start-up taking on a behemoth on Android.
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  • Profile picture of the author Janice Sperry
    I do all my searching on Bing and a couple of other search engines depending on what I am looking for. I consistently get much better targeted results. Every few months I run some tests to check again. Google has simply deteriorated as a helpful search engine for anything I personally want to find on the web.

    I know this doesn't address the actual topic in this thread but it does explain why it doesn't make much difference to me how Google returns data.
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  • Interesting...

    Google time and time again skew results, and do the ''illegal'' for personal gain...

    However, they have influence, and therefore have a lot of power in our times
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