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Google Rival Yelp Claims Search Giant Broke Promise Made to Regulators (wsj.com) 61

Online-reviews firm Yelp alleged that Google is breaking a promise it made as part of a 2012 regulatory settlement to not scrape content from certain third-party sites including Yelp, escalating its yearslong battle against the search giant. Yelp said in a letter late Sunday to Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen that Google is using Yelp photos for local-business listings in its search results, despite Yelp's formal request that Google not pull such content from its site. From a report: As part of a December 2012 settlement to end an FTC investigation into Google, the tech giant agreed to not use content, including photos and user reviews, from third-party sites that opted out of such scraping. Google's commitment lasts through 2017 and applies to a variety of its products, including its local-business listings. "This is a flagrant violation of Google's promises to the FTC, and the FTC should reopen the Google case immediately," said Luther Lowe, Yelp's public-policy chief. Yelp has emerged as a leading critic of Google because the site believes the search giant unfairly uses its influence to stifle competitors.
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Google Rival Yelp Claims Search Giant Broke Promise Made to Regulators

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  • Hu? I see nothing in the yelp.com/robots.txt file which prevent google from accessing the site. Did I miss something someware?

    • Yes, you missed the part where Google copied their images and serves them up themselves as part of Googles shopping network, an act of questionable legality if it werent for the court order demanding they stop doing it at the request of businesses regardless of the acts legality.
      • But where is the request not to do it? I don't see it in their robots.txt file (That is where you put that kind of requests).

        • by Altrag ( 195300 )

          In a court document somewhere.

          Not to mention robots.txt doesn't do the right job. Yelp doesn't want Google to stop indexing their site, they just want Google to stop using their content for their quickboxes and other places where a (potential) user might get the information straight from the search page without clicking through.

          I don't know how legitimate Yelp's complaint is in this case, but I'm sure if they could get what they wanted with a simple robots.txt tweak, they would have already done so.

    • The actual complaint seems to be that Google are using images from Yelp in search results and from there as links back to Yelp.com

      For example, A search for "brooklyn zoo williamsburg" shows the interior of the building as one of the photos. If you click that image, Google says it came from Yelp and if you click the image it takes you to the Yelp page for Brooklyn Zoo.

      It seems Yelp is concerned that it's not adding value beyond what the Google search already delivered and so folk won't click the image.

    • by AVryhof ( 142320 )

      If I had mod points, I would mod this informative.

      If they simply used a robots.txt, and Google still scraped their site, they would be able to sue for hacking. They would also be able to use the DMCA to have the results removed.

      Whether what Google did was ethical or not, it could have been prevented with 2 to 4 lines of code.

      As for court orders, if their developers were competent enough to use a robots.txt file, they could have saved a ton of time/money/and all of our time reading about it on Slashdot.

    • I think they want Google to index their pages, to drive traffic from Google users to Yelp. But they don't want Google to be showing Yelp images to represent businesses on Google properties. I don't think robots.txt provides enough subtlety for this distinction.

  • by mccrew ( 62494 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2017 @11:28AM (#55180875)
    I'm sure that this could all be worked out if Yelp just purchased some advertising space on Google.
  • by sdinfoserv ( 1793266 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2017 @11:40AM (#55180997) Homepage
    Funny, actually sad, considering Google Corporate motto. Add Google trying to patent public domain technology,
    https://www.bleepingcomputer.c... [bleepingcomputer.com]
    1/2 of their revenue coming from the US Government & military, (aka, selling YOU the user out)
    http://politicalblindspot.com/... [politicalblindspot.com]
    Google is just a company, like most corporations today. There is little concern about people, it's all about profit. If people get hurt, so what as long as investors get a return.
    • Google is just a company, like most corporations today. There is little concern about people, it's all about profit. If people get hurt, so what as long as investors get a return.

      Remember, capitalism is all about what the *market will bear*. And the "market" has no respect for the individual, never did. It is a collective, like communism, and Google et al is the politburo

  • Non paywalled link (Score:4, Informative)

    by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2017 @11:41AM (#55181011) Homepage

    Same topic from a non-paywalled site [thehill.com]. For the four /. readers that read the summary and the article.

  • Or have people who uploaded those photos to Yelp also uploaded them to Google? I've noticed Google Maps has been pretty aggressive lately asking for photos of places I've visited. Considering Yelp doesn't pay their contributors, it's reasonable to assume contributors are very altruistic people who will honor Google's request and upload their photos there too.
    • No, this is Google copying the photos. If you click on the photos in question, Google says the image came from Yelp and if you click the image for more information, it takes you off the Google domain and back to yelp.com

      Here's an example [google.com]. Click the image showing the interior with purple mats.

  • Yelp must be complaining because it knows its days are numbered. If the 2012 agreement only lasts through 2017, then what happens in a few months? Google will steal *ALL* of Yelp's assets, and probably introduce their own product to put Yelp out of business.
    • If that's true, it's even funnier that they are scrapping the fact they produce the yellow pages in the uk, becoming a 'online only' company.

      I presume this is the same company that published the yellow pages....

    • Who trusts Yelp now? It's not like their business model is a secret. Would you trust a company that openly extorts business' and is known to hide bad reviews for cash?

      That said it's exactly the same business model as 'better business bureaus' so who knows. People are stupid.

  • simple solution - can we just scrape Yelp?
    • by faedle ( 114018 )

      Only off of my boot heel.

    • by nwf ( 25607 )

      simple solution - can we just scrape Yelp?

      I think they are doing that themselves. We were on vacation and were looking restaurants recently. The ratings on Yelp are almost totally useless anymore. Any one star review seems to be excluded (under "not recommended reviews"), and two restaurants (say a fast food burger joint and a high-end dinner place) will be rated the same. That's just useless.

      Zagat was more useful, but since Google purchased them, they've languished. Perhaps after the legal agreement with Yelp is over this year, Google will put sig

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2017 @11:48AM (#55181099)

    Website known for behaving unethically complains (legitimately) about other website behaving unethically.

  • I remember when Google was the coolest thing. It was apparent that they would one day rule our lives. Most people, including myself, could not wait. Now that it is here, it sucks. I fell for it. I got duped by them like a few billion others. To their credit, Google did advance technology and our lives in many ways. In many ways we would not have leapt as far as fast as we have over the last decade and half without them. Now it is time for Google to step aside. It is time for Google to fail, and maybe even d
    • Eventually a smartphone/device/whatever will come along and whack Google over the head. This type of change none of us see coming until it happens.

      You mean like the iPhone did in 2007?

    • Who is Alexis?
    • by alexo ( 9335 )

      The TL;DR version: you cannot wait for the current evil corporate overlord to be replaced by another (probably worse) evil corporate overlord.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      How this will potentially happen, with contributions from the participants:

      Samsung: The phone itself, the operating system, position as the top smartphone manufacturer
      Microsoft: Office and related software, connections to enterprise industry, the existing vendor lock-ins they have created
      Amazon: Superior logistics, banning competing devices or making them cost more, especially if they manage to get into a near-monopoly in the future

      This has the potential for killing Google and replacing it with something th

  • No real surprise from google, that they think "What's mine is mine, and what's yours we can talk about"

  • by taustin ( 171655 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2017 @01:16PM (#55181769) Homepage Journal

    Who do I root for? This is like having to choose whether to live next door to a child molester or a telemarketer.

  • ...stop a giant evil snowball from rolling over your village?

    I'll throw in hot sauce as a starter.

  • I would have more respect for Yelp's complaint if they just blocked Google and other monopolies altogether. They however exclusively only allow Google and other monopolies to crawl their site while blocking everyone else. Talk about hypocrisy.

    Look at their robots.txt file. They only allow monopolies to crawl their site and for everyone else there is this big FU:

    User-Agent: *
    Disallow: /

    I and others have dealt with them directly on this to get this changed for text but no luck.

  • and see clearly that we live in 1984.

    I wish the best for the human species. Yet, I have no faith.
    • by wjcofkc ( 964165 )
      I don't think you people know what is at stake. You mod me down for Google, who's fate we will take. Alternate ideas have no business here. It is our future that is at stake. When we are mindless robots, worshipping the faith, remember here and now it was............ comment deleted.

Heisengberg might have been here.

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