No Escape from Google+, But U.S. Anti-Trust Probe Clears Google on Search Bias

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By Vittorio Hernandez | January 4, 2013 10:53 AM EST

While doing everything in its power to challenge Facebook's number one position in social media, Google was cleared on Thursday by a U.S. anti-trust investigation on search engine bias.

A 20-month probe by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that it could not prove that the search engine giant because Google's search methods even provided overall benefit to consumers. The FTC even noted that altering Google's search results could even harm individual competitors.

Expectedly, Google is happy with the FTC decision. "The conclusion is clear: Google services are good for users and good for competition. We are pleased that the FYC and other authorities that have looked at Google's business practices . . . have concluded that we should be free to combine direct answers with Web results," wrote Google's chief lawyer, David Drummond, in its corporate blog.

While Google may have won over that legal challenge, it is waging another battle to topple Facebook for dominance in social media networks. Currently, Facebook holds more than 500 million users logging in the Web site for news feed, apps, games, horoscope, market, and purchases.

To gain more users, Google+ requires an account to any Google-controlled systems such as Gmail or YouTube. The profile created is shown publicly in most Google Web sites including the search engine itself but user information is not exposed to advertisers to avoid losing consumer's trust. The profile can also be set private and allows customisation in case the user wants to delete certain connections to people, places, and many more.

Several Reasons Why Google+ Is Unavoidable

  • Total Integration: Profiles in Google+ is shared publicly in Google Search results, gaining access to Gmail and YouTube, and allowing reviews from users to businesses, places and apps to be seen by critics.
  • Reviews: A user can post his comments to almost anything there is in Google+. The social media lets user to point out places, businesses and applications if it's worth the time, money and effort. This is more than just set of friends communicating but also integrates common interest or blogs which is known to other sites such as Facebook and Tumblr.
  • User Interface: Most people trust Google on searching anything and in that single page, it can direct the user to other Google services such as YouTube, Translate, and Maps. Google+ news feed page displays blog from groups and individuals, Gmail alerts, and news around the world; one social site connected to all.
  • Smartphones and Check-Ins: For the tech savvy, a hangout means checking in. Like Facebook and Foursquare, Google+ allows the Check-In feature which is very common to smartphone users today. A visit to Starbucks means tag the place so your friends know where you are and the hangout begins.

Because of this integration, a user with Google+ can access all forms of social media and Google services whether via notebook or smartphone. The only need is, make sure your social circle is inside Google+.

Following the FTC decision, Google agreed to limit its annotation of content from other Web sites and give advertisers more control over their ad campaigns. The FTC, however, said that Google misused its broad patents on cell phone technology which it acquired after its takeover of Motorola. The FTC ordered Google to make those technologies available to competitors through licence arrangements.

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