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Google Now Admits its Search Isn't Neutral

There's new evidence from Google itself, that Google's search results are not neutral, as Google has long publicly represented them to be, and as Google expects everyone on the Open Internet to be.

  • (Kudos to famed trustbuster Gary Reback for unearthing the core information that I spotlight in this post; it is from Mr. Reback's friend-of-the-court brief for the Open Book Alliance, which opposes the Google Book Settlement. Don't miss pages 14-16.)  

Google now admits that its search results are not neutral despite longstanding public representations to the contrary.

  • From Google's corporate philosophy statement:
    • "We never manipulate rankings to put our partners higher in our search results and no one can buy better PageRank."
  • Google spokeperson Gabriel Stricker per the Washington Post 11-6-09 indicates Google indeed manipulates its search rankings to put its Google-owned partners higher in its search results:
    •  "Sometimes that means that our own properties could come up first, such as in case that you cited, maps, and that happens when it gives them a quick answer that benefits users. But apart from those situations, these are organic search results that are determined algorithmically and change all the time."

  • The Wall Street Journal also reported 1-19-10 that Google is not neutral in the auction ranking of its search ads either: 

    • "...advertisers often wonder whether Google’s ads are changing the ranking of their own. He also noted that buying ads for certain corporate issues–such as the cyber attacks–but not others could “raise some questions” about why the company is highlighting certain topics over others."

  • And the PBS Newshour quoted Google Book Head Daniel Clancy 12-30-09:

    • "Every time you search Google, you're searching 12 million books."

    • It is critical to understand here that the 12 million books, to which Google is referring, and which Google has added to its search results, were illegally copied without copyright permission,  and are part of the pending not-yet-approved Google Book Settlement which explicitly and non-neutrally blocks other search engines from being able crawl and search these 12 million digital books.

      • (It is also important to appreciate Mr. Reback's outstanding observation in his friend-of-the-court brief on the Book Settlement (p. 15) that Google has gone ahead and admitted it has incorporated its 12 million illegally copied books into its search algorithm, apparently after the DOJ made clear in its statement of interest that it believed these books were illegally copied and that exclusively incorporating them into Google's search engine and denying competitors access to them was anticompetitive.)

In sum, Google admits it is manipulating its search results non-neutrally, despite the longstanding promise on its corporate website that it would "never manipulate rankings to put our partners higher."

  • Moreover, Google is also thumbing its nose at DOJ antitrust authorities by ignoring DOJ's strong statement of interest views concerning how Google should operate its world's largest digital book archive.