Google Sponsored Links Trick?

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Google can’t stay out of the news, or out of controversy, it seems. It’s happened once again with the Australian consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) accusing the giant of misleading Web users and wrongly identifying sponsored links.

It’s gone so far as to file suit over the matter in Australia, claiming that Google failed to distinguish between paid advertisements and "organic" results generated by the search engine.

In federal court, the ACCC’s barrister, Christine Adamson, said that Google was misleading those who believed its search results weren’t influenced by ad payments.

“Google represents to the world that its search engine is so good that it can rank, out of the multitudinous entries of the World Wide Web, these entries in order of relevance of the user’s query," she said. "Part of that [reputation is] that it’s not influenced by money, it’s influenced by relevance."

The ACCC has also accused Google of misleading tactics in its sponsored hyperlinks. It cited an instance in 2005 which listed sponsored links from two auto dealers, but which, when clicked on, led to the site of a rival.

Google has denied the allegations and has vowed to fight the charges. The case has been adjourned until October 4.