Google has been accused of misleading web users by failing to distinguish between organic search results and sponsored links generated by the search engine.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has taken the company to court in Sydney over the issue, saying Google misleads those thought that the ranking of its search results were not influenced by payments from advertisers.
There seems to be a clear distinction between paid and organic results on the search engine, with the paid links labelled and shaded in a different colour, but the ACCC disagrees.
Its barrister Christine Adamson told the court yesterday:
“Google represents to the world that its search engine is so good that it can rank, out of the multitudinous entries of the worldwide web, these entries in order of relevance of the user’s query.”
“Part of that (reputation is) that it’s not influenced by money, it’s influenced by relevance.”
The ACCC has also accused Google of misleading over in its sponsored hyperlinks. It cited an example from 2005 when the search engine displayed sponsored links from two car dealers, which led to the site of a rival when clicked on.
The ACCC is asking the court for an injunction that would prevent the search engine displaying sponsored links that are in direct competition to the search results, as well as displaying sponsored links more clearly.
This isn’t the first time that Google has had to defend itself against allegations such as these, and so far the company has been successful in defending itself against such actions.
The ACCC is also looking into Google’s takeover of online ad network DoubleClick.