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Why Are 38 American States Suing Google?

Better question: What search engine results do you NEVER see?

The current lawsuit was announced by Colorado’s Attorney General Phil Weiser but 38 states are signatories. The big issue is alleged suppression of competition.

First, a bit of background: This is not the first big time lawsuit. That one would be from the U.S. Department of Justice in October:

In October, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Google, owned by Alphabet, for violating antitrust laws and actively enabling a monopoly in search engines and search advertising. The announcement followed a year’s worth of investigation by prosecutors, who “have spoken with Google’s rivals in technology and media, collecting information and documents that could be used to build a case.” The suit focuses on the tech giant’s illegal actions in creating exclusive contracts with companies such as Apple, to make Google the default search engine on their line of software products like Safari.

Jordan Davidson, “38 States Join Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google” at The Federalist (December 17, 2020)

A second suit was filed December 16 by a group of states aligning with Texas, making similar claims.

The current suit by 38 states “follows years of complaints that it and other big tech firms including Facebook and Amazon use their massive market power to smite competitors in pursuit of profits”:

The accusation builds on concerns publicly expressed by speaker maker Sonos and other companies that say Google has acted unfairly to grow its market power…

The complaint also alleges that Google’s search favors its own services, like its tool for finding plumbers or vacation accommodations, and will show competitors who offer the same specialized services far down in search results.

Diane Bartz and Paresh Dave, “Google hit with third lawsuit as 38 U.S. states, territories sue over search dominance” at Japan Times

Far down in the search results? That means you won’t see it if, like most of us most of the time, you mainly look at the first page…

The 38 states are said to be hoping to consolidate their suit with the one launched by the U.S. Department of Justice.

And so now, for the rest of us—who just don’t want Google running our lives—here’s some expert advice from one of our nerds Russ White: Escape the news filter bubble Google creates for you:

  1. Stop getting your news primarily from social media or major news organizations. They’re echo chambers. You can subscribe to systems that give you access to a number of sites.
  2. Don’t use the same search engine all the time. (Especially not Google’s search engine just now… ) Here’s a list of recommended options. Use different ones now and then. See what you are missing.
  3. Click on the second page of search results: “Most people scan the search results from the top of the first page to the bottom, stopping when they find the result they think will best answer their question. Search engine operators know this so they place the results they would prefer you to click on earlier in the search results. Either they are sponsored results that the engine makes money on when you click or buy, or the results that more closely align with their worldview (or political view).”

Here’s a more detailed explanation from Russ. And here’s the lawsuit.


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Why Are 38 American States Suing Google?