The Federal Trade Commission put the spotlight on Google for anti-trust reasons back in 2012. Google managed to avoid any heavily damaging legal action by settling out of court and this particular issue was dropped. Recently the Wall Street Journal picked up an FTC report showing conflict over the course of legal action against Google and the nature of its business practices that had to be changed.
In the course of the FTC investigation nine million documents were collected and the agency leaned heavily towards pursuing legal action on the tech titan. One of the reasons stated that the company pushed a strategy that would see certain websites in “highly commercial categories” demoted and deprived of exposure. Basically, these sites could be pushed down in search results or out of the most visible positions altogether.
Another cause of concern was that Google had taken content from sites and used them in its own search results which would benefit Google more than the sites that the content was lifted from. The report cites content from popular such as Yelp and Amazon having content for product rankings taken and used in Google’s search results for the product. The companies complained about it to Google first and were threatened with removal from results.
The companies were bullied into backing down, but due to FTC pressure Google allowed the sites to opt out of having its products results featured. Google also refused to allow for data gained from its campaigns to be used on other search engine campaigns and actively blocked websites or dumped the sites lower in search results that did so. The FTC also got Google to end this practice.