While the ruling on Net Neutrality has resulted in celebratory shouts from its advocates, some of the companies that promoted the law have been doing some bad things in the dark. Google, a long time good guy in the eyes of all Internet users, has surprisingly fallen into some manipulative practices. However, since a lot of Internet users and companies rely on their search engine and ad promotion, it has become difficult to fight off their influence. So, how is Google abusing their power, and what does it mean for the regular Internet user? Well, the answers may surprise you.
Cutting out the Middleman
One of the reasons why Google is still beating out Bing is because the company has been around for years and has established their dominance. Companies buy plans for long term advertising and use their analytics program to make their content more demographically accurate. It has come to light, however, that Google has been using their vast power in order to undercut their competition. When a user looks for reviews or services, they may get a page where the first result is from Google itself. One can see how this can grow into an issue because they can simply bump down rival services. Yelp and TripAdvisor to these negative practices.
How do they do this?
It’s very easy to exploit search results when your site is the biggest search engine around. Stealing content or redirecting users to targeted results is their way of getting more attention and gain more income in the process. At the same time, Google also shamelessly stole content from several different sites in order to produce more reviews within their website. As it stands, the FTC has thrown accusations and demanded Google to reconsider their actions and return sites to their rightful ranking. After all, if you can only find watch reviews or other content of on Google, then how do you know if you’re getting an accurate assessment of a product?
What does this mean for companies?
This is incredible news for companies who rely on Google to gain more traffic and present their products. If reviews are stolen and then promoted as Google’s original content, traffic will slow down on websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. Microsoft has even reported that their Bing search engine has suffered in a big way. The projected that losses for each are massive and keep growing as each day passes.
What does this mean for users?
For the average Internet user, accessibility and quick results often win out over originality. If this goes on, it won’t be too long before everyone relies on Google for their needs. That can potentially be exploited, leading to forced promotions from companies that pay Google enough for the privilege. At the same time, this kind of monopoly can mean a less diverse Internet, where content comes only from a single source. For example, in the future if you search Google for top mens watch brands, you might only find that come from Google and nowhere else.
At the end of the day, even the biggest proponent of a free Internet platform can fall into bad behavior. The most important task at hand is to is doing and make sure to call them out when they’re doing something that undercuts budding Internet businesses.