Google may face new FTC probe inquiries due to social search features

Google may be facing some antitrust inquiries from the Federal Trade Commission over its use of Google+ social results in its web search.

The company has been involved in an ongoing antitrust probe from the FTC since at least June 2011. This inquiry was intended to “examine fundamental issues relating to Google’s core search advertising business.”

Now, companies like Twitter have raised concerns that Google’s new search results, which integrate and highlight content from Google+, may give the company an unfair advantage that hurts consumers.

Twitter, which has its general counsel looking into the issue, says that Twitter-specific search terms are no longer giving users Twitter-specific search results because of the Google+ integration.

A Twitter representative wrote to VentureBeat in an email, “For years, people have relied on Google to deliver the most relevant results anytime they wanted to find something on the Internet… News breaks first on Twitter; as a result, Twitter accounts and Tweets are often the most relevant results.

“We’re concerned that as a result of Google’s changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone. We think that’s bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users.”

Bloomberg reports today that two anonymous sources confirm the FTC probe has broadened beyond search ads to include Google+.

Google is also under an ongoing antitrust investigation in Europe. Google chairman Eric Schmidt recently visited Brussels to meet with European Commissioner Joaquín Almunia about the inquiry.

“We frequently meet with policy makers and regulators around the world. We’re always happy to discuss issues affecting our industry and explain how our business works,” the company said in an official statement at that time.


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