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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

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Study Offers New Evidence That Google Skews Search Results

Issie Lapowsky | June 29, 2015

Evidence continues to mount that when it comes to search results, Google isn’t always playing fair.
The latest accusation comes from a new study written by Harvard Business School professor Michael Luca, Columbia Law School Professor Tim Wu, and Yelp’s data science team. 
<more at; related link: (Study Suggests Google Harms Consumers by Skewing Search Results) and (Is Google degrading search? Consumer harm from Universal Search) [Abstract: While Google is known primarily as a search engine, it has increasingly developed and promoted its own content as an alternative to results from other websites. By prominently displaying Google content in response to search queries, Google is able to leverage its dominance in search to gain customers for this content. This yields serious concerns if the internal content is inferior to organic search results. To investigate, we implement a randomized controlled trial in which we vary the search results that users are shown ­ comparing Google’s current policy of favorable treatment of Google content to results in which external content is displayed. We find that users are 45% more likely to engage with universal search results (i.e. prominently displayed map results on Google) when the results are organically determined. This suggests that by leveraging dominance in search to promote its internal content, Google is reducing social welfare ­ leaving consumers with lower quality results and worse matches.]>

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