At Google — no one can hear you cry for Yelp!

August 26, 2010

Google has purged Google Places of all Yelp local business reviews in Google Places — per TechCrunch: “It is confirmed, Google has changed the classification of Yelp’s reviews, according to a Google spokesperson. Until further notice, don’t expect to find Yelp in the “reviews” section...”

  • Apparently, Google is confident that the walls of Googleopoly’s Black Box business are soundproof, and no one in Washington or Brussels can hear Yelp’s screams for antitrust help.
By way of background, Yelp is the leading review site for local businesses and is Google Places’ main competitor. Yelp is also the company Google tried unsuccessfully to buy around the first of the year.
 
This situation drips with irony as Google claims to be a champion of net neutrality yet is unabashedly blocking access to, and discriminating against, some of the most popular local Internet content that users most choose in the market.
  • Moreover, Google appears to be flagrantly violating the company’s promise to “…never manipulate rankings to put our partners higher in search results…” by dispatching its competitor’s previously top-ranked content, Yelp’s, “to the back of the arena.”
  • The height of irony here is that Google Places says:

    Want to help your business stand out from the competition?

    Add Google Tags, a new advertising feature, to your Google Places account.” … at the exact same time Google is making sure that its competitor’s business does not stand out on Google Places by being no where to be found!

Even the FTC should be able to spot the Google anti-competitive discrimination problem here; it is simple.
  • Google is using its market power to self-deal its Google-owned or favored content the top Google position where Google’s dominant audience of users will find it and click on it, while having its secret “human raters” discriminate and dispatch Google’s competitors to the Goolag of information Siberia — an un-discoverably low Google search ranking.
Hopefully the DOJ and the EU will see how Google Places anti-competitive treatment of Yelp is similar to its Googleopolization via search discrimination MO vis a vis: TradeComet, MyTriggers, Foundem, Navx, Ejustice.FR, Ciao, StudioBriefing.com, Expedia, etc.

The open question is how long will it take for antitrust enforcers here, or on the other side of the pond, to investigate and confront Google’s increasingly unabashed monopolization behavior.

Google is clearly in “stop-us-if-you-can” mode.

 
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