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Google says ‘bug’ to blame for burying rivals’ local search results

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Google Yelp Search
Image credit: Yelp (via Recode)

The various antitrust investigations into Google’s business practices often centre around instances of the company using its dominant position in search to promote its own services over those of its competitors.

Now the firm is battling allegations its at it again.

Recode reports when local search companies Yelp and TripAdvisor noticed searches for say “Hilton TripAdvisor” were appearing below Google’s own listings, they smelled a rat.

However, rather than being up to its old tricks, the search giant says it was all down to a “bug” caused by a “recent code push.”

Google says it is working on a quick fix, but the rival companies are far from amused.

Yelp said it suffered a 50 per cent drop off as a result of these “misdirected searches.” CEO Jeremy Stoppleman says: “Far from a glitch, this is a pattern of behavior by Google.”

“Google is now intentionally providing the wrong answers for local searches on the mobile Web. This is not good for consumers or for competition but good for maintaining Google’s monopoly.”

While his TripAdvisor counterpart Stephen Kaufer tweeted:

While Google’s explanation, in this instance, could be legitimate despite rivals’ understandable suspicions, it’s not going to do Google any favours in upcoming legal battles.

The European Commission on competition has effectively declared war on the company and plans to investigate each element of the firm’s business. From Search, to Shopping and from Android to Maps.

See also: Why is the EU going to war with Google?

Recent evidence of the trend is hardly going to help Google’s case when it comes up against regulators and rivals actively seeking to take it to task over alleged abuses.

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