Topics: Google, antitrust, lawsuit, search engines, search results.
Dr Dana Mckay, Senior Lecturer Innovative Interactive Technologies, School of Computing Technologies
“There’s a real tension when information the public needs is mediated by a single, large commercial entity.
“Google’s remit isn’t to bring us the best or most useful or most socially beneficial search results - it is to make money for its shareholders.
“While sometimes their remit aligns with public interest, there are many ways in which it doesn’t. For example, search being powered by advertising revenue or advertising being in-line with search results.
“Google’s continued dominance can be partially attributed to the well-known pattern of people not changing technological defaults. Google.com is the built-in search engine for a few smartphones; it’s essentially an automatic stream of customers.
“Google has a particular approach to search (deep learning, concept mapping, getting the best result first) and by allowing a single company to have dominance, we have excluded other approaches, including more diverse search results and browsing interfaces.
“Whether it is illegal or not, we are all poorer for having a single company with so much dominance, and we are all subject to the values of their shareholders over how we find our information.”
Dr Dana McKay is a senior lecturer in innovative interactive technologies at RMIT University. She studies the intersection of people, technology and information, and her focus is on ensuring advances in information technology benefit society as a whole.
Professor Mark Sanderson, Dean of Research and Innovation, Engineering and Technology
“Google didn’t necessarily do anything illegal to restrict competition.
“When Google started in 1998, it managed – in a short space of time – to become the dominant search engine due to a combination of:
Outstanding internal engineering that ensured that the search engine ran incredibly fast,
Clever interface decisions that allowed users to find content speedily, and
A novel combination of algorithms that ensured the most relevant documents were retrieved for any user query.
"Google might argue that it is relatively straightforward for people to switch search engines.
“Unlike social media, where moving from one social media platform to another is very hard (you also need all your peers to move as well), if any one of us want to use a different search engine, we easily can and without any consequences for the way that we interact with our colleagues or our friends too.
“While Google paid to be the default search engine, it would not be hard for individuals to change their search engine should they wish to.
“Consumers prefer Google’s tools, simply, because they are better.”
Professor Mark Sanderson’s research covers search engines, usability, data and text analytics. He is also a Chief Investigator at the RMIT University node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making & Society (ADM+S).
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