FTC Wanted To Sue Google For Harming Rivals And Users, Discloses A 2012 Leaked Report
In 2012, officials at the Federal Trade Commission wanted to sue Google because they believed that the internet giant was using misemploying search results, reveals a report published in The Wall Street Journal.
However the senior officials at the FTC decided not to take the internet giant in courts, believing it will voluntarily make the necessary rectification in its approach. “But in this case, they were wrestling with competing recommendations, including a separate report from the agency’s economic bureau that didn’t favor legal action,” writes the Journal.
Interestingly, Google did bring some ‘voluntary’ changes in its policy but, as disclosed by the report, this voluntary action was fueled by serious investigations from the FTC.
More importantly, this report “which was supposed to remain private but was inadvertently disclosed in an open-records request” hints the discord with in the commission where senior officials wanted to give Google a chance of self contemplation but the others were so raged by, as the WSJ writes, “anticompetitive tactics and abused its monopoly power in ways that harmed Internet users and rivals.”
Among these tactics, the report observes, was to heighten the popularity of its own websites by maneuvering content from other rival websites. Google would use data such as reviews, ratings, sales ranking from websites like Amazon.com, Yelp and TripAdvisor to augment the success of websites associated to it.
When these websites raised their voice to stop Google from misusing their content, the search engine used threatening tactics to manipulate them. It made them quiet by admonishing them that it will remove those websites from the search results. Which could inflict even bigger loss on part of those companies so they thought it better to not confront Google.
“It is clear that Google’s threat was intended to produce, and did produce, the desired effect, which was to coerce Yelp and TripAdvisor into backing down,” the report said.
Afterwards, Google however permitted the websites to choose themselves weather they wanted their content to be used in Google search products or not.
Further in the report which, according to the WSJ, is one of the most vigilant investigation, the staff concluded that “[the] evidence paints a complex portrait of a company working toward an overall goal of maintaining its market share by providing the best user experience, while simultaneously engaging in tactics that resulted in harm to many vertical competitors, and likely helped to entrench Google’s monopoly power over search and search advertising.”