Is Google the (next) Evil Empire?

Following in the history of AT&T, IBM, and Microsoft, the US Department of Justice and several state attorneys general have filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Google on October 20, 2020. On NPR’s Morning Edition, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said that her concern was “I don’t want what Google says is best. I want the actual best.”

Google does not make recommendations. They do not evaluate products. Search reports what they find. They tell us how to improve search results for free. And they clearly mark paid search results.

Considering everything that Google has reached into these days, I think that wanting “the actual best” search results may be the worst antitrust argument against Google. Is this their best shot?

Daily Picayune from 1891
By Staff of “The Daily Picayune,” New Orleans, September 14, 1891, Public Domain, Wikimedia commons.

Life before Google

A bit of history is important here. Before Google, if looking for products or services, you checked advertisements, the phone book, and your friends. If important, you might check your public library.

Your response to recommendations from friends is one thing. However, did anyone ever blame the local newspaper if you could not find a paid advertisement for a particular store selling shoes you want? Was the telephone company at fault if a company’s display ad in their phone book did not work?

There seems to be a serious disconnect in how the plaintiffs think how search works versus how search really works.