US Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google

Following on from our recent post discussing Google’s popularity, concerns have recently been raised about just how Google maintains such a high number of users, and the legitimacy of their methods.  At the end of last month, the US Federal Trade Commission notified Google that they would be conducting a “wide-range investigation”.

Part of the focus of the investigation is whether, as is the claim by a number of competitors, Google results show Google websites above others, which could be classed as anti-competitive. The search engine and advertising aspect of the business, Google’s most profitable department, will be under investigation as the FTC looks into the company’s practices.

Google maintains that as a company, they simply strive to provide the best service for their users, maintaining transparency regarding how the search engine works, and providing up-to-date information as quickly as possible.  They have assured that they will comply and work with the FTC to provide all information required.

Google Fellow Amit Singhal stated that “using Google is a choice”, and that Google’s aim is simply to aid in “fostering an Internet that benefits us all”.

As a result of the inquiry, Google has seen a fall in its share price, dropping by $19 in three days at the end of June.  It will be interesting to see how the investigation and its results affect Google and the monopoly it currently holds over other search engines.  Will the fact that there is an investigation, regardless of the results, be enough to lower confidence in the company?  Will the company see a drop in users?  Will the investigation be widely broadcast, enough to reach the radars of a large number of Google users, or will many people continue to use the site, oblivious to the fact that an inquiry is being carried out?  Will Microsoft use this opportunity to promote Bing, increase their profile and catch up with Google?  Once again, it is a case of only time will tell…