Tim Wu, once an FTC Advisor, twice cleared Google in 2012 and 2013 of search practices that favored its own results over the result of competitors. However, in Wu’s newly released study conducted in partnership with Yelp, a local review company, he takes an about-face claiming Google does in fact manipulates its search results. The report comes out on the heels of Google preparing its response to the European Union’s accusations that its comparison shopping product limits consumer options as well.
While the Yelp study does not disclose its full methodology, it does share the finding of 2,690 surveyed users randomly shown search results. The search results compared those of Google search to results in which external content was displayed. In all, 45% of those surveyed were more likely to click search results when they were more objective versus the Google-influenced material. Google’s responded to this study claiming the research is exclusively reliant on clicks and very limited in its scope. How this report impacts Google’s anti-trust issues remains to be seen.