Tim Wu, the man who coined the term Net Neutrality and group of Yelp data scientists have conducted a study and found that Google is abusing its search market dominance by promoting its own search results.
While Google is known primarily as a search engine, it has increasingly developed and promoted its own content as an alternative to results from other websites. By prominently displaying Google content in response to search queries, Google is able to leverage its dominance in search to gain customers for this content. This yields serious concerns if the internal content is inferior to organic search resufts. To investigate, we implement a controlled trial in which we vary the search results that users are shown – comparing Google’s current policy of favorable treatment of Google content to results in which external content is displayed. We find that users are 45% more likely to engage with universal search results (i.e. prominently displayed map results on Google) when the results are organically determined. This suggests that by leveraging dominance in search to promote its internal content, Google is reducing social welfare – leaving consumers with lower quality results and worse matches.
Read the full report here. Google is already facing anti-trust case in the EU and they asked the European Commission for additional time to review the documents. The Commission has extended their response deadline to Aug. 1.