|New Empirical Report Erodes Support for Claims of Google's Search Bias|
|Written by Administrator|
A new report titled "Defining and Measuring Search Bias: Some Preliminary Evidence" has just been released.
Google has been the subject of persistent claims that its organic search results are improperly “biased” toward its own content. Among the most influential is an empirical study released earlier this year by Benjamin Edelman and Benjamin Lockwood, claiming that Google favors its own content “significantly more than others.” The authors conclude in their study that Google’s search results are problematic and deserving of antitrust scrutiny because of competitive harm.
A new report released by the International Center for Law & Economics and authored by Joshua Wright, Professor of Law and Economics at George Mason University, critiques, replicates, and extends the study, finding Edelman & Lockwood’s claim of Google’s unique bias inaccurate and misleading. Although frequently cited for it, the Edelman & Lockwod study fails to support any claim of consumer harm -- or call for antitrust action -- arising from Google’s practices.
Prof. Wright’s analysis finds own-content bias is actually an infrequent phenomenon, and Google references its own content more favorably than other search engines far less frequently than does Bing:
The results suggest that this so-called bias is an efficient business practice, as economists have long understood, and consistent with competition rather than the foreclosure of competition. One necessary condition of the anticompetitive theories of own-content bias raised by Google’s rivals is that the bias must be sufficient in magnitude to exclude rival search engines from achieving efficient scale. A corollary of this condition is that the bias must actually be directed toward Google´s rivals. That Google displays less own-content bias than its closest rival, and that such bias is nonetheless relatively infrequent, demonstrates that this condition is not met, suggesting that intervention aimed at “debiasing” would likely harm, rather than help, consumers.