back to article Yelp finally gets its chance to tell US Congress how Google screws its listings service every minute of every day

For years, Yelp's senior VP of public policy, Luther Lowe, has been complaining on Twitter about how every minute of every day Google screws his company by inserting its own listings instead of Yelp's when people use its search engine – even when Google's version is minimal. Yesterday he finally got to bring his complaints to …

  1. DJV Silver badge

    About bloody time!

    Google needs to be given a damn good thwack where it hurts!

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: About bloody time!

      And then hit a bit more.

    2. mspanner

      Re: About bloody time!

      Does google have any balls? Or are you talking about ad revenue

  2. Updraft102 Silver badge

    when Bill Gates et al were accused of illegally maintaining a monopoly by jamming its Internet Explorer browser onto Windows machines and setting it as a default.

    That's not what it was about.

    Microsoft was not in trouble for making IE part of a Windows installation. They were in trouble for demanding that IE be the only browser on PCs sold with Windows, denying OEMs the choice of being able to preinstall Netscape Navigator or any other browser that was not IE. The IE icon had to be prominently displayed on the desktop too... the OEMs were not permitted to remove it.

    If the OEM did not obey Microsoft's demands, they were told they would not be able to sell PCs with Windows installed, thus making their products essentially unmarketable to the vast majority of people.

    He's right when he says Google bringing up its own ratings first is like Microsoft including IE with Windows, but if that's all Microsoft had done, it never would have been a problem.

  3. IceC0ld Silver badge

    Google Fu required

    SO, Google search brings up results of Google paying companies ? ................

    colour me surprised

    it may have started as a decent search engine, may actually still be a decent bit of software, but the background shenanigins made me run to DuckDuckGo

    https://duckduckgo.com/install

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Google Fu required

      Duck Duck Go is alright and has some benefits but owing to it's main source of search results being Bing means that the results seem to be quite narrow in scope and from my point of view here in Europe, very US centric. Google seems to give a wider range but I have to spend a lot of time scrolling past so many of it's 'preferred' ads and others who seem to come high up the list even when their relevance to the search parameters are low.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Google Fu required

        Qwant does appear to give a very usable set of results.

    2. Rich 2 Silver badge

      Re: Google Fu required

      As Chris G points out, the problem with DDG (at least the last time I looked) was that it's not regionalised. It is hugely US-centric. And I'm not convinced it's even that good, despite all the fuss that seems to be made about it.

      For Euro-centric search (actually, just non-US-centric!), you're better off trying something like Swisscows, or MetaGer or Qwant (other search engines are available).

      I used to use StartPage until I found out that it it had got bought-out by some US advertising outfit, or something like that - can't remember. Anyway - not recommended now - it's gone to the evil googlies-esc side - don't use it.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Google Fu required

        Thanks for that Rich 2 I'll try your suggestions.

      2. Rich 2 Silver badge

        Re: Google Fu required

        Another couple to try are Mojeek (they are UK-based) and Ecosia (I think they're Spanish - more to the point, they're NOT American). Both worth a look

        Be handy if they would make a firefox search addon widget though (hint hint)

        1. Just An Engineer

          Re: Google Fu required

          Damn, I miss Alta Vista..

    3. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Google Fu required

      The problem is that DDG's relevance on their search term returns just sucks. I try to use DDG 100% exclusively but sometimes I am forced to go to Google to actually find what I am searching for without having to scroll through 5 pages of irrelevant articles to find the one (that I hope) gives me what I am looking for.

      And DDG seems in no hurry to fix this, as it has been going on for YEARS. I am quite tired of it but what choice do I have? Either I often don't get direct answers to my queries and keep my privacy, or find what I am looking for far more rapidly but give up my left kidney for personal details.

  4. Nunyabiznes Silver badge

    Keiran

    Good job on reminding people why Google had time to entrench before they started getting the eyeball on this side of the pond.

    "but until very recently the company was untouchable in the United States thanks in no small part to its extensive lobbying efforts and its extraordinary connections within government, particularly the Obama administration."

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is News?

    They have been doing this for at least 10 years. it was obvious everyone who worked there that Yellow Pages (yell.com) listings and their paid for SEO customers were getting royally shafted by Google and its own SEO customers.

    Google only does things that profit Google. Just like every other big company but Google is a few degrees of magnitude worse than other IMHO.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: This is News?

      A bit over ten years ago when I still used Google, Yelp pages turned up in my search results. The first few I tried were a barrier to getting the information I wanted so from then on I scrolled past their links to get a direct link to the site I wanted. If other people did similar Google's search engine would have automatically taken it as a hint and moved yelp results onto page 2 or lower.

      The good news is that anti-trust action always takes at least a decade and by the time there is a significant verdict against the accused the plaintive is thoroughly dead and some new technology has made the entire issue moot.

      1. iron Silver badge

        Re: This is News?

        Yeah the last thing I need is Yelp links cluttering up my search results, they're useless enough as it is.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: This is News?

      Yes, this is news. Not what Google is doing, but the fact that now Senators are listening.

      That is the news.

    3. Philip Lewis
      Paris Hilton

      Re: This is News?

      I bet there are posts here from me from maybe two decades ago when the Google motto was still "don't be evil" or some such, where I called them as evil. There was a zero probability that it would go any other way for anyone who was paying attention and had two functioning brain cells.

      No amount of fines can hurt them in reality. Laws are for everyone else.

    4. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: This is News?

      >Just like every other big company but Google is a few degrees of magnitude worse than other IMHO.

      Not 'worse', just 'larger'. Size matters.

      One other small detail gets overlooked, though. One of the reasons why Google is so successful is that they've figured out how to get all the data they need without clagging up users' systems. I've had an ongoing argumnt with programmers for many decades now about how 'more' isn't 'better' (Microsoft please note......). Companies like Google and Amazon manage clean, efficient, usable interfaces which obviously contributes to why people use them. Other sites tend to be too 'busy' to be worth the wait for them to load or the loss in performance after they've loaded.

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Linux

    People need to be more selective

    Although I've no idea how to teach this to them. The only thing I use google for is looking up software/development info. They seem to be rather good at that. For everything else I use a combination of DuckDuckGo, Startpage, Wikipedia and a few others

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: People need to be more selective

      At one time, any search of Bing with "Linux" in it led to pages of how to uninstall Linux. Duck Duck Go used to be heavily influenced by Bing. Bing might have improved and Duck Duck Go now takes input from a wider variety of sources. Duck Duck Go's results for software related queries has improved over the years to the point where I have not had to resort to Google for ages. Give them a try every year or so and see if you can cut another category out of the 'all else has failed' search engine.

    2. Rich 2 Silver badge

      Re: People need to be more selective

      StartPage - you might want to check this out before you use it...

      https://restoreprivacy.com/startpage-system1-privacy-one-group/

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

    "[Google] was untouchable in the United States thanks in no small part to its extensive lobbying efforts and its extraordinary connections within government, particularly the Obama administration."

    The Obama administration was a revolving door for Google, with more than 250 Google employees doing the Beltway shuffle.

    "The subcommittee chair, Mike Lee (R-UT)"

    Yelp will go nowhere with Lee in charge. Lee is currently pushing his S.386 bill which would replace tens of thousands more American workers with Indian indentured servants to work at companies such as Google and Facebook. Lee is an unabashed harlot for Silicon Valley.

    El Reg should have noted that the main reason for Silicon Valley's invulnerability to liability is Section 230 of the ridiculously named Communications Decency Act, which gives Internet companies a get-out-of-jail-free card.

    1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: Repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

      Oh, that's particularly ignorant in this context: repealing section 230 would make websites liable for the content of commentards. You may or may not think that's a good thing, but in this context, it would do precisely what this article is complaining about: Yelp and Google's "organic" search results would both die (particularly Yelp), as their results would be considered speech, and Google's "sponsored" listings would be all that's left.

      Remember when you submitted your website to directories, like Yahoo!? And then along came Alta Vista, then Google...

      Also, "hewhoshallnotbenamed" would have been unable to post what he posted, as it could be seen as defamatory to Mike Lee, Google and Facebook. It's probably not _actually_ defamatory, but who'd want to go to court to defend that post?

      Section 230 created the internet as it exists today. Politicians and big businesses eager to control discourse want to stifle free speech in favor of strict liability rules, because there's no-one with a greater interest in limiting the First Amendment than the Establishment!

    2. phogan

      Re: Repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

      Section 230 has nothing to do with this, it says online serves can't be treated as the publisher of material posted by someone else, especially when they engage in moderation to remove objectionable content. It doesn't offer any protection from criminal charges, anti-trust, or IP infringement. It was created in response to a New York court ruling, Stratton Oakmont, Inc. v. Prodigy Services Co, that said service could be liable for user posts because they moderate and have content guidelines.

      All removing Section 230 will do is turn user generated content into a liability, and we've seen how well that works with the often abused DMCA take down. The only people punished will be end users and smaller sites. Google and Facebook have plenty of money and lawyers. Review sites like Yelp, without Section 230 could routinely be targeted with threats of defamation for bad reviews and don't have any where near the resources.

  8. tim 13

    Yell just need to put some effort in

    All Yell have to do is to create their own dominant search engine. It’s what Google to do.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Yell just need to put some effort in

      Yelp <> Yell

  9. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Now it's clear....

    When I first open Google for a search, enter my search words, and smack <enter> I immediately get a pile of crap advertising for stuff that bears no resemblance to my search. If I go back or open a new window and search.. things work like they should. And search using the same search terms twice and my gosh.. different results on the first two or three pages before going to BS that has nothing to with my search.

    Google has become just a bunch of self serving muppets propping up the bottom line for their stock. It's becoming more useless everyday.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now it's clear....

      Back in the very very early days, Google won out because Yahoo was only serving spam adverts in response to searches. Now, it's gone full circle, and Google is showing real ads, but in a spammy way, when you try to do a general and normal search.

  10. VibhorTyagi

    Google Using Algorithm To Boost Favorability

    Google manages to engineer AI, which according to its algorithm, prefer its own products over everyone else. Yelp has had years of reviews, basically squashed by Google. Thus rendering the voice of the people obsolete. Google has also managed to use its algorithm, to engineer AI for opponent suppression and ad favourability. This is not going to die anytime soon

    ~Engineer.AI

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: Google Using Algorithm To Boost Favorability

      > the voice of the people

      More like the voice of paying advertisers and shills. Yelp removes bad reviews for anyone who buys an ad.

  11. BebopWeBop Silver badge
    WTF?

    Shurely some mistake. Yelp are not a US company???

  12. codejunky Silver badge

    Eh?

    "For years, Yelp's senior VP of public policy, Luther Lowe, has been complaining on Twitter about how every minute of every day Google screws his company by inserting its own listings instead of Yelp's when people use its search engine – even when Google's version is minimal."

    Stopped reading at that point. Maybe Yelps senior VP needs to go to google and read the name on the website if he wants to understand why it might favour google.

  13. fishman

    Yelp

    Yelp - the review site that seems to lose bad reviews if the company that is reviewed pays Yelp.

    1. Barry Rueger Silver badge

      Re: Yelp

      To be fair, Yelp sometimes also loses positive reviews for no apparent reason.

      None of the "user" generated review sites are very good. I have yet to see one that wasn't wallpapered with obvious spam positives.

      Yelp's biggest problem though is an utterly horrible UI, second only to Facebook for clutter and irrelevant information.

      1. Donn Bly

        Re: Yelp

        Yelp is trying to compete with Google, not in level service but in the level of evil. People should watch the documentary "Billion Dollar Bully" for a better understanding.

        I have personally documented them engage in deceptive practices in order to get my business to put in a credit card. I have watched positive reviews disappear from friend's businesses when they refused to pay for ads, and I have watched negative reviews disappear when they did.

        Louis Rossman has also done a series of youtube videos documenting his experiences. Very enlightening if you are considering doing business with them.

        It says a lot if Google is the LESSER of two evils.

  14. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Review Sites

    The problem with all review sites is not so much the accuracy of the ratings at the time they were given but that over time the ratings are liable to change. Also, a related problem is the number ratings, often too few to be statistically significant. Thus the results presented are often skewed in weird ways that takes effort to sort out detracting from their supposed value.

  15. shodanbo

    Pot calling the kettle black

    How about how Yelp "helpfully" creates listings for businesses without being asked and then pumps up their SEO to get those listings to come up before the business' own web site for organic searches. Bonus points for then putting competitor ads into those un-requested business listings that can be removed if you only agree to give Yelp some of your hard earned cash?

    "Nice business website you have there ... would be a shame if somebody with SEO experts out the wazzo came and prevented your customers from seeing it!"

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