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Google co-founder admits to discriminating against US content to improve search results

Google co-founder Sergy Brin, one of Google's most avid net neutrality proponents, candidly admitted today in Google's 1Q08 earnings call with investors, that Google "improved" its international search quality by "demoting non-country search results" on Google's improved country home pages.

This is interesting for a few reasons.

  • First, Google has always publicly prided itself on not skewing search results based on their profit motive.
    • They have said it was essential to maintaining user trust that the Google search algorithm deliver the best results for the user, not the best results for Google's profits.
  • Second, in demoting "non-country" results on new and improved country home pages, the effect is largely to "demote" U.S. content relative to other international content, which proactively disadvantages U.S. content competitiveness.
    • With a non-transparent "black box" tweak of the algorithm, U.S. content companies that had worked to appear high in the search results in other countries, were relegated to the latter pages in the results where no one would find them, lowering U.S. revenues of these U.S. content companies -- to enhance Google's profitability -- something Google claims not to do.
  • Third, the FCC's net neutrality principles apply to Google --"consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers" -- and Google's discriminatory treatment of U.S. content clearly is not neutral.
    • Google feels strongly that broadband providers should be neutral to all content, but Google is not neutral to content by its own admission, and Google's 60% market share of search is far greater than the market share of any broadband provider.

Bottomline: Google's net neutrality stance is not principled, it is simply a way of getting the Government to tilt the playing field to their advantage. 

  • Google is not net neutral; they admit to discriminating against content based on its origin.