Skip to main content

Yelp condemns Google’s practices in senate antitrust hearing

Yelp thinks Google has broken antitrust laws, saying  at a hearing focused on the search giant that the company stifles competition and lies to consumers . 

Tuesday’s U.S. Senate hearing titled “Examining Self-Preferencing by Digital Platforms” gave Yelp the chance to speak out against its biggest competitor, CNBC reports. Luther Lowe, Yelp’s senior vice president of public policy, said that Yelp has had many concerns over the years about Google’s ratings and reviews feature on its search engine. 

“Today, when a mom searches for a pediatrician in Salt Lake City on Google, instead of being matched with the most relevant information from across the web, she is steered toward a set of results that come solely from Google’s exclusionary corpus of ratings and reviews,” Lowe said during his prepared testimony. “This self-serving bias matches unwitting consumers with objectively lower-quality information. And because local searches like this are the most common type of search people conduct, Google’s self-dealing produces at least a billion degraded search results in the United States every week.” 

Lowe added that Google has “shifted from providing users the most relevant and high-quality information on the internet to providing users whatever would keep them on Google’s own properties for as long as possible, even if that means the information is false.”

Image used with permission by copyright holder

When you search for a business on Google, you can also find reviews and ratings from people who have visited that business, just like Yelp’s company model. However, Lowe said that Google now populates its search results pages with its own Google results that appear at the very top where you are more likely to click. 

“Google physically demoted non-Google results even if they contained information with higher-quality scores than the Google information,” he said. 

Lowe said that Google’s practices are not only unfair to companies like Yelp but American consumers as well. Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported millions of fake business listings on Google’s local searches, which resulted in customers being ripped off and doing business with someone who wasn’t actually representing a real business. 

Both the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the attorneys general of 50 states are conducting separate antitrust probes into whether the search giant acted in an anticompetitive manner. The issue in question is whether Google undermined consumer choice and stifled innovation in a way that harmed regular customers.

Google is only one of many big tech companies under fire for questionable antitrust practices. Facebook has antitrust investigations from almost every state and the DOJ, as well as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC is also asking Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft why and how they acquired individual companies. 

Digital Trends reached out to both Yelp and Google to comment. We will update this story when we hear back. 

Editors' Recommendations

Allison Matyus
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Allison Matyus is a general news reporter at Digital Trends. She covers any and all tech news, including issues around social…
Leading Dem says Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon have ‘monopoly power’
rep cicilline ask zuckerberb about policing misinformation on covid 19 poster for 6176418334001

Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook have "monopoly power" -- and must be either regulated or broken up, according to a leading House Democrat.

In Wednesday's Big Tech antitrust hearing, the focus throughout its five-hour run time was largely on anything else other than the topic at hand.

Read more
Google gets grilled at start of Big Tech hearing
Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Congress began its Big Tech hearing by grilling Google CEO Sundar Pichai over stealing content from other businesses and diverting traffic to their own sites. 

U.S. Representative David Cicilline (D-RI), started off by asking Pichai, “Why does Google steal content from honest businesses?” Cicilline cited investigations they conducted and interviews from other businesses. 

Read more
Google pledges not to use Fitbit data for ads to ward off EU antitrust probe
Google Logo

Google has vowed to not misuse the sensitive health data it obtained with its $2.1 billion Fitbit acquisition for ad targeting to ward off a full-scale antitrust probe in Europe, reports Reuters. The search engine giant is potentially facing yet another European Union antitrust investigation, and reportedly had an option to placate most of these concerns if it pledges to not compromise existing Fitbit users’ privacy or exploit their fitness information for ads.

“This deal is about devices, not data. We appreciate the opportunity to work with the European Commission on an approach that safeguards consumers’ expectations that Fitbit device data won’t be used for advertising,” Google told Digital Trends in an emailed statement.

Read more