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The secrets Google spilled in court


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Vox

The Google search antitrust trial is expected to wrap up by Thanksgiving. And while we’ll have to wait until next year for a verdict, there are a few things we learned over the last two months of the first big test of the limits of Big Tech’s power.

The Department of Justice is accusing Google of using its monopoly over internet search to freeze out its competitors — real or potential. Instead of innovating and putting out a superior product that users prefer, as Google insists it does, the government says the company is resting on its laurels and paying off manufacturers, carriers, and browser developers to make Google the default search engine across countless devices and operating systems. That’s why, when you search for something on Safari or Firefox, ask Siri a question, or type something into the search widget that came pre-installed on your Samsung Galaxy’s home screen, Google is powering that search. And although you can always change it to a different search engine, the DOJ maintains that most people don’t know they can or don’t know how, creating an exclusionary barrier to entry.

Part of the problem is that Google pays billions of dollars every year for default placement, a price almost none of its competitors — if it really even has any — can afford. That helps Google make many more billions of dollars off the ads on those search results. Having as many people using Google Search as much as possible is what makes the company’s search engine so attractive to advertisers, and the majority of Google’s revenue comes from those search ads. The incredible amount of data Google collects from those trillions of searches also helps it monetize some of its other services and gives it a major competitive edge over other search providers. Knowing what everyone everywhere wants to know all the time has made Google one of the most valuable companies in the world.

Over the course of the trial, we’ve learned a little bit more about the lengths Google has gone to to stay on top and boost revenue, and how hard it is for other search engines to gain a foothold. We don’t know as much as we could because Google has also gone to great lengths to keep as much information as possible away from the public.

Is Google using its dominant search market position to illegally freeze out competition, giving users a worsening search experience and advertisers less bang for more bucks because there’s no other game in town? Or is Google simply offering the best experience possible, without the added hassle of having to wade through a pesky choice screen the first time users open a search app?

We’ll find out what a judge thinks in a few months. In the meantime, here’s what we learned in the landmark trial, the result of which may change your internet experience.:snip:

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