Google News caught in Italian antitrust probe

Following complaints from the Italian Newspaper Publisher's Federation (FIEG), Italian authorities have launched a probe to find out whether Google abuses its position of the world's most popular search engine to deprive others of advertising revenue.

At the heart of FEIG's complaint is Google News and its mystery algorithms for listing top stories. FEIG complained that since it is unknown how Google News decides which stories are listed at the top, content providers don't know how their stories should be written so as to gain top billing in Google News listings. Conversely, sites also have no say if they do not want their content listed on Google News.

Furthermore, the group alleges that content that doesn't make it into Google News listings also fails to become available through Google Search. If true, this would of course greatly reduce a site's potential traffic, with a detrimental effect on the site's value to advertisers.

The anti-trust authority was quoted by Italian news service ANSA as saying, "[We] have decided to launch an investigation against Google Italy to check whether the conduct of the company, given its undisputed dominance in the provision of Online search services, is capable of unfairly affecting competition in the market for Online advertising sales, and if it has consolidated its position in brokering advertising space."

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