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Google’s Dominance under Fire from Trump and Warren


Aug. 20 2019, Published 5:18 p.m. ET

Google’s (GOOGL) dominance in the search result space is yet again under scrutiny. The Internet giant finds itself in the spotlight over President Trump’s claims that it influenced the fiercely contested 2016 presidential election. In his controversial August 19 tweet, Trump alleged that Google played a role in Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote.

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Trump takes on Google again

According to Trump, Google’s dominance in the delivery of online search results played a role in swaying 2.6 million–16 million votes toward Clinton. Trump based his allegation on a study conducted by psychologist Robert Epstein of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology. However, with new details coming to light, Trump might have misreported the study’s findings.

Epstein is on record stating that he believes Google’s search results contain bias. However, the researcher has refuted claims that Google’s dominance on search results allowed them to manipulate the 2016 election results in favor of Clinton. Critics of this allegation have also come to Google’s defense, emphasizing that there is no direct link between search results and people’s voting behavior.

This is not the first time that the tech giant has found itself at odds with the president. On December 18, 2018, Trump tweeted allegations that Twitter (TWTR), Facebook (FB), and Google continue to suppress conservatives’ views.

The new claims by President Trump come at a time of growing calls to stem Google’s dominance of search results. The company has long operated as a monopoly after shrugging off competition from Microsoft’s Bing, among others. Plus, the search engine leader controls dominant positions in mobile operating systems via Android and on its web browser, Chrome.

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Tech giant breakup calls

Google has become a frequent target for politicians and regulators looking to curb the amount of power the tech titan wields. Plus, Trump’s allegations could fuel calls to split Google as a way of reducing its influence.

Democrat presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is on record calling for the breakup of Internet giants. The Massachusetts senator has since made the potential breakups of Google, Amazon, and Facebook one of her key campaign pledges.

Notably, Warren believes these companies wield too much power that should be harnessed. According to Warren, the government must break up monopolies as a way of promoting competitive markets.

Plus, Google’s dominance in search results has attracted the attention of regulators around the world. In the EU, the company was required to change the way it displays search results after incurring a fine of 2.42 billion euros for breaching EU antitrust rules. This fine was levied to settle claims that the company engaged in anti-competitive practices to promote its shopping service in search results.

Heading into the 2020 election cycle, we expect to see Google face additional pressure regarding election-related search results.


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