It’s been a big day for those of us who have been making the case that Google steers users not to the most relevant products and services, but to its own services. This morning in Brussels, Consumer Watchdog called upon European privacy officials to investigate such antitrust issues, including how “the recent announcement of Google’s ‘Search, plus Your World’ is but the latest example of how Google uses its monopolistic position in an uncompetitive way to promote its own services.”
As night fell in Brussels, Silicon Valley companies in the US offered proof that Google does just this with the release of a new bookmarklet at FocusOnTheUser.org The new tool allows Google users to strip away the filter of ‘Search, plus Your World,’ which the ‘Don’t Be Evil’ bookmarklet proves steers search results to Google services, and find the most relevant results based on Google’s own unfiltered ranking of social media results. In other words, the site shows Google is burying the most relevant social media search results, as recorded by its own calculations, and steering people to Google+, it’s own new social media product. That’s a big antitrust problem for company that controls more than 70% of Internet searches and 85% of mobile searches.
Facebook, Twitter et al, who collaborated on FocusOnTheUser.org have produced a smoking gun that antitrust regulators on both sides of the pond will have to consider. Watch this video to see how the technologists used Google’s own search engine to prove the point. It’s no wonder that lobbying reports out today show Google has increased its lobbying spending 87% in 2011 over 2010. This new exposure should prompt even more legislative and regulatory scrutiny of Google. Consumer Watchdog’s John Simpson is in Brussels to stir the pot with European officials and industry leaders who are meeting to deal with the privacy and antitrust concerns plaguing consumers online.