The formula of the algorithm that ranks results on Google search pages is also well guarded as the recipe for Coca-Cola. But if Coca protection – legitimate – a trade secret is only intended to protect themselves from the competition, Google is different because the stakes are not the same: success or death of a business can depend entirely on its ranking in the results of a search engine.
This “dictatorship” of the algorithm has already upset many, and Google is regularly the object of suspicion and investigation on how to present their research results, which some believe could not be completely neutral.
It is for these reasons that the Attorney General of Texas has opened an investigation following complaints of abuse of dominance. If complainants are not known, the investigation concerns a possible setting before Google’s services or which Google has interests at the expense of competing sites.
An investigation reminiscent of similar cases have recently seen this side of the Atlantic, with particular complaints or eJustice Foundem or Ciao, accusing the search engine to compete unfairly in skewing the results and seriously penalized. See on this subject: Complaints against Google: the reasons for the anger.
Google is certainly a great company, full of great people, offering great service and essential, but sometimes its practices are abhorrent because of their opacity. Of course the clincher is to explain that Google is a private box as another, there is no monopoly, that we may use other methods and other drivers to make themselves known on the web, but these quibbles are disintegrating face the reality of the market: Google is the Web, and a de facto monopoly. You walk with Google or you die, period. And in these circumstances it seems legitimate that the “clients” (or users) are entitled to more transparency, and at the very least, information. Is it normal for example, that any “offense” – often unintentional or committed through inadvertence or lack of knowledge of rules – a site to be penalized, relegated to the depths of the rankings or even blacklisted without its authors are not aware and without having any chance to plead their cause and good faith for a pardon?
If legal proceedings may at least serve for this: either encourage or force Google to ban the arbitrary methods, then cross our fingers that the Prosecutor’s investigation of Texas to run its course.