Google has long been accused of using the dominance of their web properties to manipulate the browser market, and now, in a stunning admission, an ex-Google employee has confirmed that the company did just that.

Chris Zacharias, previously YouTube developer and currently the founder of imgix, has revealed that in 2009 a conspiracy in Google resulted in a halving of Internet Explorer 6’s market share, after YouTube employees got tired of supporting the quirks of the browser.

Without formal management permission, they slipped in a warning on YouTube (above) only visible to IE6 users, who at the time were 19% of the market.  The warning falsely claimed that support for IE6 was coming to an end, and resulted in a very rapid drop in IE6 market share to around 10% of the market.

The false banner rapidly spread through Google, from YouTube to Google Docs and further, and inspired other non-Google web properties to also withdraw support from IE6.

While Zacharias paints a picture of brave and rebellious YouTube engineers finding an innovative solution to their headache of supporting a browser much hated by developers, we cant help but remember all the strange issues Windows Phone users had with YouTube and other Google products, and similar accusations by Firefox executives.

Zacharias’s article is an admission that Google employees did intentionally work against other browsers, if only to make their work easier. It is easy to imagine this culture being pervasive in Google, placing obstacles in the way and working to squash competing products before they even gain a foothold.

What do our readers think of this abuse of power? Let us know below.

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