Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
EU Google

EU Antitrust Chief: Google "Diverting Traffic" & Will Be Forced To Change 329

Posted by samzenpus
from the shape-up dept.
Dupple writes "It looks like the EU is coming close to a decision regarding its investigation of Google. While saying he's 'still investigating,' the head of the European Union's antitrust regulatory body has said that he's convinced Google is 'diverting traffic' and that it will be forced to change its results. From the article: 'Despite the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's move earlier this month to let off Google with a slap on the wrist -- albeit, a change to its business practices, a move that financially wouldn't dent Google in the short term but something any company would seek to avoid -- the European Commission is looking to take a somewhat different approach: take its time, and then hit the company hard.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

EU Antitrust Chief: Google "Diverting Traffic" & Will Be Forced To Change

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2013 @04:15AM (#42555575)

    What the hell do they mean by "diverting traffic", and why would it not be allowed?

    What, exactly, does Google have a monopoly of, and how are they abusing monopoly power in any way?

    TFA suggests they have a monopoly on "search" which is nonsensical, since there are many competitors and no barrier to entry, and they give the "product" away for free, so it would hard to claim any monopoly pricing power is even being used or existing.

    A more sensible allegation would be that they have some kind of monopoly on advertising or user data collection, since that at least they charge for, except, that as far as I can tell, they don't have that either.

    So, all in all, it looks like either a blatant cash grab by the EU, or a bullshit legal attack funded by the likes of Microsoft.

    • by hinchles (976598)

      I believe they mean stuff like putting "favoured" search results at the top in return for cash. Either their own or partner/advertiser sites

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        So exactly what every search engine has done since the dawn of time.

      • by aaron552 (1621603) on Friday January 11, 2013 @05:20AM (#42555813) Homepage

        IIRC, the problem is that Google's own services appear to be favoured in search rankings over competitors. I would think that this is primarily be because they're significantly more popular than the competitors, though, and not due to any bias on the part of Google.

        A search for "email" on Google returns Hotmail as the first result and "web browser" gives an ad for IE, the wikipedia page for "web browser", Opera, and Firefox before Chrome appears. There doesn't seem to be anything particularly shady on there based on my rather unscientific test.

        • by aaron552 (1621603)
          If it's to do with advertising, I guess it's because they use exclusively Google-owned advertising networks for on the pages for their own services. I honestly don't see the problem with this (doesn't Microsoft do the exact same thing with Bing?)
        • by Genda (560240) <mariet@@@got...net> on Friday January 11, 2013 @05:47AM (#42555907) Journal

          I just did a search on just "Beer" and the first thing to show up was "Sam Adams", I'm guessing that right there would be enough to start a war with the German's and we all know as goes Germany so goes the EU...

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2013 @05:54AM (#42555915)

          Welcome to the filter bubble anyway. It shows Hotmail first for YOU. It actually shows Gmail first for me.

          • by iserlohn (49556)

            I'm logged into Gmail and the search still shows Hotmail as the first result.

            • The track you by timestamp and IP and OS, etc. Even if (especially if) you're not logged in, so of course it doesn't matter if you're signed in or not, the profile they have on you is the same.

              • by fnj (64210)

                But it's not a profile on "me". It's a profile based on the IP I happen to be using. An IP does not have a 1:1 relationship with a person.

                • Marketing and economics are inexact "sciences", it's close enough to 1:1 for what they are doing.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by LordLucless (582312)

          So? Even if they were, why is that a problem? A search engine exists for end users to find what they're looking for, not to give commercial entities some sort of equal platform for advertising. I ask a question, Google tells me what it thinks the best answer is. What does the EU want? The ability to vet Googles' search algorithms?

          • by theVarangian (1948970) on Friday January 11, 2013 @06:48AM (#42556107)

            So? Even if they were, why is that a problem? A search engine exists for end users to find what they're looking for, not to give commercial entities some sort of equal platform for advertising. I ask a question, Google tells me what it thinks the best answer is. What does the EU want? The ability to vet Googles' search algorithms?

            What does the EU want? It wants Google, a company that has a monopoly on the search engine market, to stop abusing it's dominant positon which it is allegedly now using to try and kill off competitors by wilfully burying results that link to their (competing) services. I don't think the EU gives a rat's ass about what is in Google's blackbox as long as you can put in your search term and get output int the form of fair and balanced search results. I watched a documentary yesterday where an industry observer described Google as an 'adolescent' and postulated that we have not yet seen the real giant that Google will become. Now if somebody had taught Microsoft some manners back when it was still a teenager perhaps we would have been spared a whole lot of pain over the years. Microsoft was only taught a modicum of manners (by the EU) when it was far too late but perhaps we can avoid the mistakes we made with MS by teaching Google to behave before it is once again too late and the damage is done.

            • I don't think the EU gives a rat's ass about what is in Google's blackbox as long as you can put in your search term and get output int the form of fair and balanced search results.

              What's a "fair and balanced" result? Wouldn't a search engine returning what it thinks is the best results be "fair and balanced"? Is there any evidence that any of these services being returned aren't what consumers are looking for? Is Google supposed to artificially promote a bunch of crappy map services so it can be seen not to favour its own? Wouldn't that just piss off consumers who are trying to find a good service?

              It's bollox. Search stands or falls by it's results. If Google starts doctoring results

              • What's a "fair and balanced" result? Wouldn't a search engine returning what it thinks is the best results be "fair and balanced"? Is there any evidence that any of these services being returned aren't what consumers are looking for? Is Google supposed to artificially promote a bunch of crappy map services so it can be seen not to favour its own? Wouldn't that just piss off consumers who are trying to find a good service

                An unfair and unbalanced search result is one where Google is modifying search results to assure that it's services are hight on the results list but those of competirors are buried on page 8. If Google is doing that they are engaging in anti-competitive behaviour because they are conciously trying to drive comptetitors out of business like Microsoft did with Netscape.

                • An unfair and unbalanced search result is one where Google is modifying search results to assure that it's services are hight on the results list but those of competirors are buried on page 8. If Google is doing that they are engaging in anti-competitive behaviour because they are conciously trying to drive comptetitors out of business like Microsoft did with Netscape.

                  So what you're saying is, if Google is just using an algorithmic search method, and it happens to select their own sites because they are popular in their own right and legitimate results, they're not doing anything wrong?

                  Is there any evidence of this not being the case? email [google.com], [slashdot.org], maps [google.com], videos [google.com], calendar [google.com], search [google.com] - all of these have competitors on the first page, and half of them have the non-Google service as the first result.

                  • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@NOspam.nexusuk.org> on Friday January 11, 2013 @08:56AM (#42556531) Homepage

                    So what you're saying is, if Google is just using an algorithmic search method, and it happens to select their own sites because they are popular in their own right and legitimate results, they're not doing anything wrong?

                    No. If you go to google's web search and you search for a local business, amoungst all the search results, fairly near the top, it will give you a link to Google Maps showing you where that business is. It won't give you a link to bing maps, openstreetmap, etc. This isn't because google maps is more popular, its because google integrate their own mapping product with their search engine but don't integrate competing products with it. Google *could* provide an API to allow other services to integrate, but they don't.

                    • That's like saying "When I go to Mapquest and type an address, why doesn't Google Maps come up?"

                      You are going to a company's website. Why would you expect them to offer other companies' services through their own site? If not for actually hindering their own advertising/promotion/business model, it also brings up copyright issues, where if Google is just serving up Bing maps and results without any attribution(free advertising for competitors) they can get in trouble for plagiarism, fraud, and far worse thi

                    • That's like saying "When I go to Mapquest and type an address, why doesn't Google Maps come up?"

                      Last I checked, Mapquest wasn't a web search engine. If I go to mapquest, I expect it to give me results from mapquest, if I go to google maps I expect it to give me results from google maps, and if I go to google web search I expect it to give me results from *the web*, not results from google's random other products promoted above everything else.

                      Why would you expect them to offer other companies' services through their own site?

                      Because thats what web search engines do - they search the web (i.e. other c

                    • That's because people like google maps. And they don't like bing maps, etc.

                      Do they? Personally, so long as I get the most relevant results to my query, I don't care where it comes from.

                      how do you tell a successful product from wanton abuse of the search system? That's that point. In my opinion, google maps is way better then bing maps, and integration into the search system is part of the search system. I'd expect Bing to do the same -- to add value to their services..

                      Well yes, that's the problem - it's a fuzzy line. Thats why the EU are *investigating* rather than just slapping them with a fine - its not clear cut and needs due consideration from the governing body, and negotiation with Google to come to a mutually satisfactory answer.

                      You can take the "how much integration is too much" to the extremes. Lets take an operating system vendor, for example: Is int

                    • by mjr167 (2477430)

                      Some questions only have one "relevant" answer because they are not subjective. If you type 5 + 5 into google, it will tell you "5 + 5 = 10". It does not suggest that I go and use the windows calculator or ask bing. It just answers my question. Same thing if I ask it for a location. It just answers the question. If google's answers started telling us to go drive 30 miles into the Australian outback, people would stop asking it those questions and would instead ask bing.

                • This is nothing like what Microsoft did with Netscape. Microsoft bundled IE, a system that competes with Netscape, with Windows. They did nothing in doing so that harmed the utility and usefulness of Windows to an extent that it would drive people away from Windows, indeed, they made it more useful.

                  If it were true (and it clearly isn't, it's an all-out lie that's disprovable simply by using the search engine) that Google was burying search results for competing products in their search engine such that t

            • by bhagwad (1426855)

              This is a self correcting situation.

              1. People use Google because they think it gives the best results
              2. If Google promotes its own products, it either makes their results better or worse
              3. If it makes their results better, no one complains
              4. If it makes their results worse, customers shift to another search engine (no barrier or lock in remember)

              What exactly is the problem here?

            • by phayes (202222)

              Please stop spreading falsehoods.

              The EU is not claiming that Google has a monopoly on search. They are saying that they are abusing their dominant position in the market. Calling Google a monopoly is incorrect & only wastes everyone's time.

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          In other news Microsoft Internet Explorer defaults to Bing for search, the cook book that Nestle offer is full of recipes which directly call out Nestle's chocolate bars, BP sells Castrol (part of the BP group) branded oil at their petrol station, and every other company in the world which is remotely competent at marketing will also promote their own products when offering a related service.

          This is just normal business behavior. I'm surprised there's not a list of all Google services at the top of every se

        • I think it has more to do with Google's Map showing up in the sidebar when searching for a location or restaurant.

          I just did a search for "breakfast" and Google Maps shows up beside the search results.

          I still don't see that as favoring search results, but maybe I'm missing something.

        • email in google :

          https://www.google.de/search?q=email&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a [google.de]

          first result :
          Gmail: Email from Google
          mail.google.com/ - Cached
          10+ GB of storage, less spam, and mobile access. Gmail is email that's intuitive, efficient, and useful. And maybe even fun. âZGmail - âZSign up - âZWelcome to Gmail - âZMobile
          second link: Email - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

          definitively an ads for google email

          we
          • When I search web browser, I get the wikipedia entry, Opera, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari in that order. I found it strange that I had Firefox as my 3rd entry, but then again, I am running Iceweasel (Debian). If I were to search "web browser" from Chrome, would I want an ad for Chrome at the top? Search engines are smarter these days. :) Not too smart, though.

            Your search habits give you these results, I'm guessing. They're different for everyone, so that means they aren't giving preferential treatment... un

          • email in google :

            And when I did a similar search, Yahoo's email came out on top. Gmail came in second. Wikipedia's article on email came in third.

            No, I don't use Yahoo's email.

            Nor do I use gmail.

            Nor have I ever used either, for anything...

            On the other hand, I do use wikipedia to look things up from time to time, so Google is OBVIOUSLY being paid by wikipedia to pad the results in their favour

    • by rossdee (243626) on Friday January 11, 2013 @04:23AM (#42555617)

      And The EU has no authority over what google.com does, since its not based in the EU
      They have some jurisdiction over the european subsidiaries like google.fr b ut don't most searches go through google.com anyway? Except for those people who want to use a foreign language, and a lot of eurpeans are fluent in english anyway.

      • by sFurbo (1361249)
        They do have authority over the Google offices in Europe.
        • by Rix (54095)

          But if they push too far, Google has the option to close them and nope itself outside of their jurisdiction. They'll still be able to sell and display ads to Europeans, safely on the other side of the internets.

          • by sFurbo (1361249)
            I think the EU could make it hard for Google to accept payment from European countries for ads shown in Europe. And if they really want to push it, forcing the EU ISPs to reroute DNS for google.com and youtube.com could be possible. But that runs the risk of enraging the population, depending on how much of a smear job against Google have been done before.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            But then they have to start paying taxes.... And the tax break they get laundering their money through Ireland an the Netherlands is a lot bigger than a possible fine...

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        My searches go through google.co.uk. If I visit google.com, I get redirected to google.co.uk. I believe there is a way to override that, but it isn't straightforward.

      • >And The EU has no authority over what google.com does, since its not based in the EU Alas that sort of thinking doesn't stop the US trying to do the same thing and enforce its laws all over the globe.
      • by cdrnet (1582149)

        Google.com has customers in the EU, so EU law applies as well. This is also true the other way around, and enforced by the US on a daily basis.

      • by greg1104 (461138)

        Google shelters enormous amounts of their profits through Ireland and the Netherlands [newser.com]. Since they're evading taxes using EU countries, they can't claim they're not bound by the rules of the EU.

    • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@NOspam.nexusuk.org> on Friday January 11, 2013 @04:33AM (#42555649) Homepage

      What the hell do they mean by "diverting traffic", and why would it not be allowed?

      It looks like they're talking about doing stuff like including results from Google Maps in your web search results (whilst not doing the same for results from Bing Maps, etc.).

      What, exactly, does Google have a monopoly of, and how are they abusing monopoly power in any way?

      They are the dominant search engine, and the EU appears to be deciding that they are using that dominance to help gain dominance in other markets (e.g. the aforementioned maps, amoungst others).

      TFA suggests they have a monopoly on "search" which is nonsensical, since there are many competitors

      They are the dominant search engine. I think you are misunderstanding antitrust legislation:
      - Antitrust legislation doesn't care whether or not you have competitors, it only cares whether you are the *dominant* vendor. As a well known example, Microsoft was found guilty of antitrust violations in their operating system business, but there have always been other operating system vendors. The key was that they were the *dominant* vendor.
      - Antitrust legislation doesn't say there's anything wrong with being the dominant vendor (or even the only vendor). All it says is that if you are dominating the market, you're nor allowed to use that dominance to help you gain dominance in other markets. So going back to the Microsoft example, they were dominant OS vendors, and by shipping certain freebies with the OS (e.g. a web browser) they were unfairly using their existing position to gain dominance in the browser market. Netscape, on the other hand, could never have hoped to do this since they weren't shipping anything which already dominated the market, with which to bundle their browser to compete. The EU is saying Google is using their dominance in the search engine market to push their other products in a way that is unfair to their competition.

      and no barrier to entry

      There's always a barrier to entry - setting up a search engine is going to involve R&D and then a hell of a lot of time and bandwidth to spider the web. However, that isn't what this is about - this isn't about Google doing anything to stop people competing in the search engine business, this is about using their existing search engine position to make it harder for people to compete in other sectors.

      and they give the "product" away for free, so it would hard to claim any monopoly pricing power is even being used or existing.

      No one said anything about pricing. It isn't relevant to this discussion.

      So, all in all, it looks like either a blatant cash grab by the EU, or a bullshit legal attack funded by the likes of Microsoft.

      Or the EU is trying to level the playing field for the smaller businesses. Whilst having everything run by a single megacorp is convenient, historically it has always been better for the consumer in the long run to have many smaller businesses offering services. The EU usually takes the attitude that a bit of short term pain (inconveniencing people by preventing the "convenient" integration of services from a single vendor) is better than the long term pain of having a single megacorp in control of huge markets and no chance for a smaller business to survive.

      • by thegarbz (1787294)

        It looks like they're talking about doing stuff like including results from Google Maps in your web search results (whilst not doing the same for results from Bing Maps, etc.).

        This is not an antitrust violation. It's normal business practice for every search engine.

        I think you are misunderstanding antitrust legislation:
        - Antitrust legislation doesn't care whether or not you have competitors, it only cares whether you are the *dominant* vendor. As a well known example, Microsoft was found guilty of antitrust violations in their operating system business, but there have always been other operating system vendors. The key was that they were the *dominant* vendor.

        You're misusing the Microsoft example. Microsoft wasn't just the dominant vendor, they were actively engaged in anti-competitive practices. At the time they got slapped with antitrust fines you could not buy a computer without windows. It wasn't possible. Any computer you purchased from a store came with their system preinstalled. This is quite the opposite from someone firing up their computer and oh look Internet Exp

        • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@NOspam.nexusuk.org> on Friday January 11, 2013 @07:23AM (#42556197) Homepage

          It looks like they're talking about doing stuff like including results from Google Maps in your web search results (whilst not doing the same for results from Bing Maps, etc.).

          This is not an antitrust violation. It's normal business practice for every search engine.

          Firstly I'm not saying it is an antitrust violation (IANAL and don't have any particularly strong opinions either way anyway), I'm just explaining what the EU appears to be saying.

          However, I'm not convinced that you can say its completely innocent behaviour either. A search engine is supposed to find the most relevant results for what a user is searching for. Google is intentionally adding in results relating only to their own services, even though similar services exist from other companies. Using the maps example, if I search for a business then I'll get:
          1. that business's home page on the web
          2. people talking about that business on the web
          3. a link to google maps showing me where the business is
          In the case of (3), Google has intentionally included a link to a relevant page on a separate service that they also own. They haven't provided a similar link to other map services, such as Bing, Openstreetmap, etc. Whether this is right or wrong is debatable, but it is clear that they are using their search engine to promote their own maps service over their competitors', and this search result appears amoungst all the normal results, not as a "paid advertisement" (which is what happens to all the other artificially promoted responses).

          And yes, you can say that other search engines do the same, but the point is that other search engines aren't in the same dominant position and therefore antitrust legislation doesn't apply to them. This is the same as pointing at things Microsoft isn't allowed to do and saying "well Apple/Ubuntu/Fedora does them" - dominant companies have to play by different rules to everyone else in order to keep the playing field more level.

          You're misusing the Microsoft example. Microsoft wasn't just the dominant vendor, they were actively engaged in anti-competitive practices. At the time they got slapped with antitrust fines you could not buy a computer without windows. It wasn't possible. Any computer you purchased from a store came with their system preinstalled.

          This is untrue. You have *always* been able to buy computers without Windows. There have been several antitrust cases against Microsoft; the one you seem to be referring to was where MS were pressuring OEMs to only supply machines preinstalled with windows by offering them substantial discounts for doing so. There were ways the vendors used to get around this, and so you could still buy machines without Windows, but it was more difficult to do so than it should have been.

          More recently, there was an antitrust case against Microsoft because they shipped IE with the OS by default, in a way that prevented the OEMs from removing it and replacing it with a competing browser. The EU decided that this was unfair since MS were using their dominant position in the OS market to push their browser in detriment to other browser vendors. This is very similar to what the EU is suggesting that google is doing - using their dominance in the search engine market to bundle other products at the detriment to their competitors.

          This is quite the opposite from someone firing up their computer and oh look Internet Explorer is the default browser and Bing is the default search engine and the end user is forced to make an informed choice.

          In your example, someone made a choice to buy a Windows machine and found that IE and Bing were bundled by defaults. So long as they stick with Windows, they have to go out of their way to use a different vendor's browser or search engine.

          Similarly, someone made a choice to use Google and found that Google Maps, etc. were bundled into the search results by defau

          • by jkflying (2190798)

            The barrier to entry is for the *customer*, not for the *competitor*. It can be difficult as a customer to change operating systems due to compatibility of applications etc., so MS can ream you through lock-in. It is easy to change search engines - just type "search engine" into google and they themselves will give you a whole host of other options.

      • by argStyopa (232550)

        So the lesson here is that if you build a business, develop something that's really awesome and becomes the go-to choice for nearly everyone on the planet, your reward is to be considered a monopoly and regulated as a utility?

        That's brilliant.

        Let's remember that antitrust legislation was about PRICING. If I drive all my competitors out of business, I can then charge anything I want. Presumably, barriers to entry in terms of capital, etc. are too high for free-market competition.

        However, what is google CHA

        • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@NOspam.nexusuk.org> on Friday January 11, 2013 @09:32AM (#42556727) Homepage

          So the lesson here is that if you build a business, develop something that's really awesome and becomes the go-to choice for nearly everyone on the planet, your reward is to be considered a monopoly and regulated as a utility?

          Your reward is that you have a business that is worth billions. There is a very minor penalty that you have to adhere to slightly stricter regulations as a result. Its good for the consumer for the dominant company to have to work at staying dominant rather than sit back and stagnate since no one can compete.

          There are always penalties associated with being successful, but the success generally outweighs the penalties. Or are you going to complain that successful high-profit companies shouldn't have to pay more tax than low-profit businesses because that would be a penalty on their success?

          • "...There are always penalties associated with being successful..."
            And the fact that you believe this is pretty damn sad.

            In my view, that's naked envy.

            It's a fairly clean identifier, I'd guess, of which side of the political spectrum you belong on: "Should there be a penalty for success?"

            Honestly, that concept is fundamentally reprehensible. Next time my kid wins a game of checkers, I should slap him? Or maybe just make him do the dishes? Or sit in an uncomfortable chair to teach him that "...There are

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      Their product is selling advertising to European businesses, and it is very difficult for anyone else to sell advertising because of Google's monopoly.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2013 @06:30AM (#42556037)

      Once again I am pointing out a Troll that got moderated to +5 Insightful:

      Poster said:

      nonsensical allegations

      Both the European Union and Google's own American Government said that they were breaking the law. I take it these super powers have lawyers, economists and stuff like that making arguments based on international law and trade agreements. NOWHERE, and I mean no where in your post do you point out what is a "nonsensical allegation". You don't cite any law, any United Nations charter, any trade agreement, you don't even cite a verse from the Bible (which I was half expecting from you).

      Poster said:

      What, exactly, does Google have a monopoly of, and how are they abusing monopoly power in any way?

      You use the word "monopoly" throughout your post. In fact your entire post is based on YOUR claim that these unfair, greedy Europeans want to make money off of Google because it is a "monopoly". Unfortunately for people who are interested in the TRUTH, the source article by ZDnet does not mention anything about a monopoly or anti-monopoly legislation. So your whole argument is based on a lie and yet you get up-moderated to +5 (I'm hoping and expecting this will change as newer Moderators see through your Bullshit... as is often the case).

      Just out of Interest the comments on ZDnet are highly biased against the EU as well. I get the feeling that most Americans feel that if some negative judgment is made against one of their Corporate status symbols, that this is somehow anti-American, and the result of people who are obviously more stupid than Americans. I will give examples:

      The EC should shut up...
      and follow the American leadership

      and

      ... and Google should being immediately blocking all EU IP's from accessing their system.

      and

      Why is Almunia talking to the press like this ? Abuse of Power or did promises of a large amount of money loosen his lips?

      and

      The EU will use whatever tactics they believe will extract funds form internet companies. If they can't manage to tax them they will fine them to get the money.

        Oh yes, unfortunately I see the same type of people posting the same types of arguments on Slashdot as well. Too bad.

      Unlike the parent poster (who got moderated to +5 Insightful!), I will supply you with a reference to my evidence:
      http://www.zdnet.com/eu-antitrust-chief-hints-at-forced-changes-for-google-7000009665/

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        Google's own American Government said that they were breaking the law.

        Actually, I don't believe they did. The FTC were looking into whether they were or not, apparently due to heavy lobbying from Microsoft. I was under the impression that Google voluntarily changed a couple of practices and the probe was dropped.

    • the argument is that google has a monopoly on search and they are using that to lock other people out of other online businesses. (or at least to unfairly disadvantage them)

      Expedia are one of the companies that complained.

      Imagine that every time you searched for a flight on google, all Expedia results were completely ignored, and Google simply showed at the top of the page in a big box, the results from their recently acquired travel company.

      It's pretty clear that in this case, they'd be abusing their domin

    • Like most slashdot articles, this one doesn't exactly help you understand what's going on. Unless you click on the links, read the articles referred to, and do a little research on things that remain unclear.

      So, like most of us, you don't know. Fair enough, but please don't confuse your lack of background knowledge and your failure to do any background research for being able to tell whether or not the allegations are "nonsensical".

      A few second's Googling would have given you this link: http://www.mark [marketwatch.com]

  • I'm into Heirloom fruit and vegetable seeds. After the first of the year I noticed a shocking change in search results. Most heirloom seed companies will give you a list of a list of one to four dozen results for things like bean seeds, Some sites are two to four times that. Some heirloom seed companies are over a hundred years old and most are over a decade old. These are people that grow their own seed and know the subject. Since the first of the year I find the first few pages of search results are what
    • Occam's Razor (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Alternatively, those 'scam' sites may do what they do- a great deal of search engine optimization. It was merely a niche market that isn't re-spidered and indexed very often and it's turn came up at the first of the year, no doubt along with many other niche search terms. The index was updated and tada! now all those old, reputable, and not very SEO savvy businesses get to go for a swim in the search results while the modernized middlemen rise to the top.

    • by Guppy (12314)

      I panicked and emailed myself my bookmarks so I could find my favorite websites no matter what happened. Heirloom seeds have become a profitable business so only the ones willing and able to pay the Google search tax even show up on the search results.

      Any chance you'd be willing to share those links you've got bookmarked? My father's into gardening and he might be interested. Plus maybe a few links from Slashdot might boost their rankings ever so slightly, especially if people here also bookmark and Google +1 them.

    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      Go away paid bing shill. Google does not accept cash to raise search positions
    • by knarf (34928)

      Uh, nice try but no cigar.

      A few things:

      because some start up paid Google to front their site

      That is not the way Google works... and you actually know it isn't so why say it in the first place?

      most of the sheep will simply use the sites willing to pay the blood money to Google

      You are seriously starting to show your colours here...

      You know what? If all what you say is true there is an easy way out. Just search for those things on Bing. Or Yahoo. Or DuckDuckGo. Or Baidu. Or any of the other search sites - ther

    • by heypete (60671)

      I was under the impression that money paid to Google was for the advertisements at the top or side of search results, and did not affect the position in the search index.

      It's more likely that the shady sides are doing sneaky things like SEO that result in higher listings. Google tends to frown on this and have seriously penalized sites in the past for doing sneaky SEO stuff and it's only a matter of time until they refine things further.

      Google has a vested interest in you finding what you're looking for: if

    • This isn't a problem of paid search results, Google doesn't do that.

      The problem you are describing is a direct result of the rise of SEO, and it's a darn shame. But it happens with all search engines.
  • Serious? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Aeros (668253) on Friday January 11, 2013 @05:14AM (#42555797)
    These are just two guys running a simple home grown search engine in their dorm room in college. Give these poor guys a break. Freakin' EU!
  • by kasperd (592156) on Friday January 11, 2013 @06:16AM (#42556007) Homepage Journal
    Web search was Google's primary business, which is why they stopped doing it. Sounds strange? Nevertheless that is roughly what happened.

    Initially there was google.com, and it was a web search engine. Later Google started introducing other kinds of searches, which would be hosted on subpages/subdomains of google.com. Since web search was the primary business, it remained on the front page.

    At some point Google thought it would be good for the users if they could type in their search query in one place and get merged results from all of the different kinds of search, which Google is offering. That was introduced a few years ago, and it was considered such a great idea, that it would go on the front page, displacing the web search.

    All the other kinds of search still had their own URLs, on which the individual kind of search could be used. But Google websearch never had such a page in the first place, because it had been on the front page. So now Google is no longer offering websearch alone.

    Google should reintroduce the websearch on a subdomain like web.google.com or similar. And it should also introduce a subdomain for the merged search like everything.google.com (or something shorter). Having those existing as separate pages allowing you to search them separately is both a service to the users, who sometimes want to search specific kind of content, and also clears up some of the confusion leading to stories like this one.

    Once those two kind of searches each have their own page, the remaining question is which of them users should see when they just go to google.com. At that point authorities will sound even more stupid, once they come and say, you are not allowed to show all search results from the front page, only web search. But it would be less of a problem for Google to comply, because even if it does comply, the search page with all results, which users prefer, will still exist on a slightly longer URL.

    While they are at it. I think they should also introduce ads.google.com or something like that, where you can go if you specifically want to search in ads. Payment rules should be slightly different for such a page. A larger percentage of users are likely to click on an ad on such a page, and the price per click should be adjusted down accordingly. Additionally those are users who want to see the ads, and thus should be shown any appropriate ads, even if the advertiser is out of budget.
    • by jafiwam (310805)

      Web search was what they did for a while.

      The goal always has been, and will be, showing ads and getting companies to pay them to show ads.

      Everything else follows from that. The search is not the product, the eyeball using the search is.

      • Web search was what they did for a while.

        The goal always has been, and will be, showing ads and getting companies to pay them to show ads.

        Everything else follows from that. The search is not the product, the eyeball using the search is.

        This is actually precisely backwards from how Google employees and the company leadership -- all the way up to the CEO -- see it.

        Google started as an idea for searching the web, implemented on donated and scrounged hardware in a dorm room and using the university's Internet connection. Eventually traffic rose to a point where it was causing problems for Stanford, so it had to move out, which meant it had to find a way to fund itself. The founders were opposed to using advertising as the revenue source, but couldn't find anything else workable. Even then they didn't find advertising acceptable until they realized that advertising can be useful to the user, if it's relevant and not obnoxious.

        That attitude is still what drives Google. The goal is all of the products that users use. When new ideas come up, the first question is whether or not it's cool and will improve peoples' lives. Whether or not there's a way to monetize it comes up much later. Of course, if there isn't a way for it to be profitable Google probably won't do it, because the bills have to be paid, but generally any product that's sufficiently useful to a sufficiently large number of people will have some way of paying for itself and generating a profit. Advertising is a monetization approach that works for many products, doesn't create a large barrier to usage, and often creates revenues that grow naturally alongside usage (and therefore cost), so it's widely used.

        The point, though, is that products are the goal, and advertising is (usually) the means.

        (Disclaimer: I work for Google, but not as a spokesperson. The above reflects my view of the company's motivations from my perspective inside the company, but is not any sort of an official position.)

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Even then they didn't find advertising acceptable until they realized that advertising can be useful to the user, if it's relevant and not obnoxious.

          ... not anymore. You do realize that Google owns most of the advertising market on the Web, and not just through Google AdSense, but through ownership of such fine ad purveyors like DoubleClick, too right? And DoubleClick is well known for their obnoxious ads.

          And there are more ad companies Google owns -so while Google AdSense may be least obnoxious of them a

    • by coofercat (719737)

      That's not what this is about at all.

      Google can do whatever they want on their search results. However, they're *not* allowed to (say) push Maps at the expense of Bing and others, solely because of their dominant position in search.

      Someone like, duckduckgo can push duckMaps all they want (if there was such a thing) - hell, they completely remove bing.com from their results, whilst pushing duckMaps on every single search result if they want. That's okay because they're not dominant in search.

      Whilst this case

  • by louic (1841824) on Friday January 11, 2013 @08:13AM (#42556377)
    If I go to Burger King, should I complain that they don't have a Big Mac on the menu? When I go to Google, I go there because I WANT a Google Maps result!
    • If I go to Burger King, should I complain that they don't have a Big Mac on the menu?
      When I go to Google, I go there because I WANT a Google Maps result!

      I don't. I go to Google because I want relevant results. I don't want to have to redo my search on several sites because they are all arrogant enough to each consider their own services to always be the most relevant results.

  • I understand that this is probably regarding Google directing people to their own services when searching for competitors (Google+ when searching for Facebook, for example), but I'm going to take the opportunity to go off-topic and mention two providers who use Google results without giving them tracking information.

    https://www.duckduckgo.com/ [duckduckgo.com]
    https://www.startpage.com/ [startpage.com]

    The results are slightly off sometimes, but that only goes to show that Google really does its profiling of you very, very well indeed.
  • by miltonw (892065) on Friday January 11, 2013 @01:20PM (#42559301)

    A response from the commissioner is understood to be imminent, after Almunia's office told Google in mid-December that it must convince its rivals that it competes fairly in the web search market or else it could - within months - face sanctions for alleged "abuse of dominance".

    I found this statement very strange. Especially in light of the principle of "innocent until proven guilty". Apparently, the EU doesn't have to prove Google broke the law. Even stranger, the EU is not asking Google to prove that they didn't break the law.

    No, it seems to be much worse. Google must "convince its rivals that it competes fairly" or face sanctions that its rivals desperately want.

    It just boggles the mind.

    • by miltonw (892065)
      Google: "Gee Microsoft, what would it take to convince you that we compete fairly?"
      Microsoft: "Die! Google! Die!"
      EU: "You didn't 'play fair' and die, Google, it looks like we'll have to sanction you."
  • by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Friday January 11, 2013 @01:45PM (#42559593) Journal

    Any resemblance between the actions of the European Commission and due process is entire coincidental.

    The European Commission gets to act as investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, with no oversight.
    It's then left to the courts to clean up, years after the self serving commissioner has moved on from his or her round robin appointment at the commission.
     

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."

Working...