FTC Antitrust Action Against Google Appears More Likely

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5StarControl takes a stand on recent reports that the Federal Trade Commission is likely to move ahead with antitrust legislation against Google for artificially manipulating its search results.

5StarControl states their opinion on the news reported by PCMag that the US Federal Trade Commission is on the verge of filing an antitrust lawsuit against internet giant Google for manipulating search results.

Local Business Review Site 5StarControl provided advice to their readers regarding the allegations that Google has promoted their listings over that of competitors. 5StarControl stated, "As these statements are alleged we recommend to our readers to continue on with their search engine optimization and reputation management strategies."

Google is the reigning leader in the internet search and advertising industry. Google claims that more than 1 billion searches are processed on their search engine every single day. In addition to being a search engine, Google also offers a host of other internet-related products, including Gmail, YouTube, the social network Google+, and Google Adwords, which focuses on internet advertising. The focus of the FTC investigation is whether or not Google artificially put search results for its products ahead of those of its competitors.

The United States Federal Trade Commission is the government body charged with regulating competition and ensuring fairness in the American market. The FTC was founded in 1914 as an independent government agency designed to bust monopolies in the oil and railroad industries. The FTC is headed by five commissioners who are appointed by the President and serve staggered seven-year terms. The FTC has the power to bring a lawsuit against companies that they feel participate in deceptive and unfair business practices, provided that three out of the five commissioners agree to go ahead with a lawsuit.

One of the companies that feels aggrieved by the alleged actions of Google is the local review site, Yelp. One of the most popular destinations for local business searches as reviews, Yelp is visited by more than 78 million unique people every month, and is the home of over 40 million different business reviews. The San Francisco based Yelp does the lion’s share of its business in the United States, but also operates in an additional 19 countries. It is also a popular form as small business marketing online, as businesses can offer deals and place ads on the Yelp website.

Another company which complained about Google is Nextag, the price comparison website. Nextag has been operating in its current form since 2000, and its website allows users to compare different prices for products across a range of different retailers. In a September 2011 Congressional hearing, Nextag CEO Jeffery Katz stated, “Today, Google doesn't play fair. Google rigs its results, biasing in favor of Google Shopping and against competitors like us.”

The allegations that Google has taken steps to boost the search results of its products, while lowering those of the competitors is a blow to consumers who wish to get the best information, as well as the businesses hurt by it. A move by the FTC to halt these practices by Google would be welcome as a way to level the playing field, and allow both small businesses and consumers access to the widest amount of information available.

5StarControl is a forum about business news in the area of Google reviews.

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