Can We Actually Trust Google?

For a good few years, it seemed that Google lived up to its old motto.

Don’t be evil.

It also seems that do no wrong in terms of product superiority. Google built its reputation as an ethical company that honestly has outperformed competitors. But is that reputation still deserved as a lot has happened in the few last year?

An important antitrust lawsuit brought by a coalition of States in the United States in 2020 and published in unredacted form last week alleges that Google suppressed competition by manipulating advertising auctions. To me, this comes as no surprise when it comes to seeing competition against Google's products and services.

Google used what are called second price auctions, where the highest bidder would win the auction, but end of paying the publisher an amount equal to the second-highest bid. If one company bids $25 per click, another bids $20 and another $18. The $25 bidder  would win — but they end up paying the $20 per click to the publisher.

in the lawsuit, Google is accused of lying about its second price auction and of running a scam in which it pays the publisher the third-highest bid – but ends up charging the advertiser the second highest bid and diverts the difference to raise the bids so that bids on Google’s platform would be lower than those on competing platforms.

In the end, Google switched to a first-price system in 2019, but the lawsuit alleges that Google continues some version of the scheme under the internal code name Bulbasaur.

Google says the lawsuit is highly inaccurate while lacking legal merit.

As of September 2019, we have been running a first price auction. [But] at the time to which AG Paxton is referring, AdX absolutely was a second price auction.

Another notable part of the lawsuit claims that Google conspired with Facebook to divide the online advertising market – then exclude all and any competitors.