Google gets slapped with a €2.4 billion EUR fine for manipulating search results

Google has been fined a whopping €2.4 billion EUR for misleading search results – and favouring its own shopping comparison service – in the European Union.

Leading technology companies such as Facebook and its child WhatsApp have recently been slapped with several fines in the European Union, though Google has now taken the cake for a record-breaking €2.4 billion EUR fine for misleading search results.
The decision, which accordingly follows a seven-year-long inquiry into the Mountain View company’s search algorithms, ended with the judgment that Google had “abused its dominant position by systematically favoring” its own shopping comparison service.
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The fine is the largest antitrust judgment handed out by the European Union’s executive body, surpassing the €1 billion fine Intel accrued in 2009.
The case hinges around Google Shopping, which is a price comparison feature found within the company’s Search suite. The European Union has argued that Google showed results from the service “irrespective of their merits” and subsequently deprived rival comparison websites of inordinate amounts of traffic.
Google will now have to alter how its search algorithm ranks price comparison websites to “comply with the simple principle of giving equal treatment to rival comparison shopping services and its own service.” Should the company not amend its operations, it will face daily penalties – up to 5% of its average daily turnover.
EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager offered that Google had “abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors”, and offered that what the company had done was “illegal under EU antitrust rules… It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”
Google has the option to appeal the decision, which may postpone a final resolution. A company spokesperson offered that “We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case.”
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Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA