ZDNet, sister-site to TechRepublic, is reporting that the Federal Trade Commission is poised to issue subpoenas and initiate a formal investigation of Google for violations of federal anti-trust laws. My colleagues on ZDNet have expressed some concern about how and why the FTC has reached this point. I, too, am concerned about the impact such an investigation can have, not only on Google, but on the information technology universe in general.
Does a manipulating search results really constitute anti-trust behavior that rises to the level of an FTC investigation? Or, perhaps, does the realization that Google may not be giving you truly raw search results merely mean you should use a different search engine? Or, even better, that you should parse all search engine results with your own critical thinking to weed out results that may be artificially over-weighted?
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These are just some of the many questions that fly through my mind when I read about an FTC investigation of Google. But let's condense it down to two specific questions. Do you think the Google search engine is really that powerful as to make or break another company's success merely by manipulating search results? Do you trust Google to present you with fair and accurate search results based on a non-biased algorithm, except, of course, for some well-labeled sponsored results?
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.