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Google Is Crushing Small Business, Antitrust Authorities Say

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Kyle Perisic Contributor

Google is crushing small businesses’ ability to compete, antitrust and business experts said in a “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday.

“If I were starting out today, I would have no shot of building Yelp,” Yelp founder Jeremy Stoppelman said in the interview. “That opportunity has been closed off by Google and their approach.”

It’s extremely difficult for business start-ups to get funding if their business model has to compete with Google for ad revenue. Contrary to what the public thinks, Google does not promote the best content first; it promotes itself first, Stoppelman said.

If your company is seen as potentially threatening, Google will “snuff you out,” and “they will make you disappear. They will bury you,” Stoppelman explained. It’s not just the first page of internet search results that are crucial; it’s the first few links on the first page that get the vast majority of the traffic from the searches, Stoppelman added. “If you’re on the second page, forget it; you’re not a real business.”

Google has been criticized for placing its content first before its competitors. The company has an effective monopoly in several markets including internet searches and search advertisements, antitrust lawyer Gary Reback said. Google conducts about 90 percent of all internet searches and earns roughly 60 percent of all ad revenue on the internet.

“Google makes the internet work,” Reback said. “The internet would not be accessible to us without a search engine.”

Google has “only superficially” been investigated by the antitrust division of the Justice Department, Reback said in the “60 Minutes” interview. “The government just really isn’t enforcing our antitrust laws.”

When other tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Yelp filed complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2011, the agency conducted an investigation. The FTC Bureau of Competition recommended an antitrust lawsuit be filed against competition; but due to Googles lobbying efforts and close relationship with the Obama administration, the recommendations were rejected. Google spent more than $18 million on lobbying in 2017 — more than any other corporation.

Google’s practices should be investigated, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on CNBC on Monday, acknowledging antitrust issues are out of his jurisdiction.

“These are issues that the Justice Department needs to look at seriously — not for any one company — but obviously as these technology companies have a greater and greater impact on the economy, I think that you have to look at the power they have,” Mnuchin said. (RELATED: Google Removes ‘Don’t Be Evil’ From Code Of Conduct)

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