Google Manipulates Search Results; FTC Convinced

Bangalore: Google, the world’s most popular search engine may soon step into troubles as most of the commissioners at the Federal Trade Commission have been convinced after a year long investigation that Google is manipulating its search results to harm its rivals.

According to three FTC commissioners who declined to reveal the name to Reuters, Google will soon be headed into tough negotiations and the exact outline of procedures will come in early November or late December.

The investigation into the search giant’s activities was triggered by the complaints from a long list of companies to FTC, alleging Google of using its dominance in search to lower the ranks of rivals in search results, thereby steering the customers to Google products that provide similar services. The consumers are usually driven to the top search results and the complainers argued FTC to crack down on Google.

However, Google has denied about the alleged manipulations from their part and had commented about the discussions with FTC that, "We are happy to answer any questions that regulators have about our business."

The complaints have mainly come from Google rivals who specialize in travel, shopping and entertainment.        Even though companies rarely talk about their dealings with FTC, Nextag, the comparison shopping website and Yelp, the consumer review website have openly complained about the world’s number one search engine in the hearings. During one of such congressional hearings in last year, Eric Schmidt, Google executive chairman said, “May I simply say that I can assure you we've not cooked anything."

Adding to these complaints, FTC is also considering the complaints about Google refusing to share data, which allow developers and advertisers to create software to compare the value they get on Google advertising compared to spending on other search engines like Microsoft's Bing or Yahoo. According to a previous statement from FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, he expects a decision in the case by the end of the year.

If proved guilty, FTC and Google could sit down for settlements and if the negotiations fail, it could lead to a next long courtroom fight. FTC has already hired a leading lawyer to head the probe which strengthens the possibility of a huge crackdown on the world’s number one search engine.