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FTC Demands Search Engines Separate Paid Advertisements From Search Results

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the signal-to-noise dept.

Advertising 230

An anonymous reader notes that the FTC has sent letters to search engine companies (PDF) telling them to make sure advertisements are clearly distinguishable from search results. "According to both the FTC staff's original search engine guidance and the updated guidance, failing to clearly and prominently distinguish advertising from natural search results could be a deceptive practice. The updated guidance emphasizes the need for visual cues, labels, or other techniques to effectively distinguish advertisements, in order to avoid misleading consumers, and it makes recommendations for ensuring that disclosures commonly used to identify advertising are noticeable and understandable to consumers. The letters note that the principles of the original guidance still apply, even as search and the business of search continue to evolve. The letters observe that social media, mobile apps, voice assistants on mobile devices, and specialized search results that are integrated into general search results offer consumers new ways of getting information. The guidance advises that regardless of the precise form that search takes now or in the future, paid search results and other forms of advertising should be clearly distinguishable from natural search results."

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Sounds like BS to me (2, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about a year ago | (#44103239)

Google never indicated, to me at least, what was in the search results. I don't see how it could be deceptive.

And even if it was, does that matter, since I don't pay Google one red cent for the service?

Re:Sounds like BS to me (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44103327)

Regulating advertising is a function of the FTC.

Just because you are not paying is no reason why advertising should be represented as anything else.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103487)

wtf man. wtf.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (5, Informative)

pr0fessor (1940368) | about a year ago | (#44103869)

Google already does this... if you search for a product the first results you get are "Ads related to {Your Search Terms}" There are usually two or three online retailers followed by local retailers and google map showing those local retailers. Scroll past that and you get the actual search results and text ads on the right of each result page. Yahoo and Bing try to do the same thing {bing doesn't show a map} and duckduckgo has it's ads in a different color and they say "Sponsored Link" next to them.
{I don't actually use yahoo, bing, or duckduckgo but had to look and see how they were laid out}
Not sure how any other search engines are laid out but figure those are the four I hear the most about. I figure for public relations and to keep traffic the top search engines will do this anyway.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103329)

I disagree.

The FTC is saying that you can't place an ad as part of the search results, unless the search engine actually produces the ad as a real result. In other words if someone is paying the search engine for the link to be there, it needs to be labeled as such.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#44103435)

Why is thre a need to do this.. What does it matter? As part of captialism if people get tired of getting the advertisements they will go to another search engine. There is no reason for this.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (2)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a year ago | (#44103493)

Oh FFS. Is there anything completely unfettered corporate greed coupled with government corruption doesn't solve?

Re:Sounds like BS to me (0)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#44103539)

Yea, because that is what I said... You still have not even mentioned why there even needs to be a seperation. If you dont want to use my product because I do this then dont, no one is twisting your arm to make you do it.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (4, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a year ago | (#44103733)

Actually, it's EXACTLY what you said. Your argument is akin to "if people get tired of watching commercials, they'll just tune to TV stations that don't show commercials" -- in other words, complete bullshit.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (2)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#44103767)

I never said that corportte greed coupled with government coruption fixes things. And no it is not akin to that, it is akin to if they dont like how they cant tell the differnce between the commericals and the TV show thy will switch stations, which is most assuradly true. But just like any relative thing, how much they like/dislike the things matters.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (2, Interesting)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a year ago | (#44104031)

What I don't like, is the implication that overbearing government protectionism via the Nanny State is the only solution to protect the idiots of the world from being idiots. What you don't realize is ... to quote Ron White ... "You can't fix stupid"

There is no reason for the FTC to do this, unless there is some specific company (companies) that are doing this. In which case, they should name and shame them and actually do their job. Firing a warning letter to every search engine is like paddling a canoe and getting a warning shot from a battleship for going too fast.

And this is one of the reasons why I hate big government. Unnecessary NannyStatism because ninnies like you can't figure out what is and what isn't an ad on google (even though they are clearly marked).

Re:Sounds like BS to me (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#44104073)

Thank you, you said this better than I could have.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (4, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#44104135)

So there is no space between "no regulation" and "nanny state"? That's what you imply here, and that is how just about every regulation "debate" turns out these days.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104101)

Actually, I got tired of watching commercials, so I tuned to TV stations that don't show commercials (which in practice means I don't watch TV anymore)

Re:Sounds like BS to me (3, Insightful)

Elldallan (901501) | about a year ago | (#44103757)

No one is twisting Google's arme either, they're free to take their business elsewhere if the climate or price of doing business gets too high for their tastes.
A government is free to set whatever rules it wants for doing business within their jurisdiction, you have as a business you can either choose to comply or choose not to do business there, noone is twisting your arm or forcing you to do anything.

There needs to be a separation because showing paid for results as matched search results is deceptive.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#44103861)

Actually a government is not free to set whatever rules it likes, atleast not here in the US. Even corperations have protections under the Constitution. You belive it is deceptive, and that your right to believe, but it is still an opinion.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#44104159)

BULLSHIT! There are *no* protections for Corporations under the constitution. You should look it up. And while you're at it, look up the history of Corporate Personhood up too because you obviously don't understand it.

Corporations aren't mentioned in the constitution. Early U.S. corporations were extremely limited in power and weren't even allowed to own property that didn't immediately relate to their business. They weren't allowed to own other businesses or stock.

So what you are saying is complete bullocks that have been fed to you by your fellow corporate sycophants. Way to go. You're one of the sheep.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103515)

So you're not suckered into visiting a website that's selling a product, when you just want information on it.

Deception isn't _supposed_to_ be a part of capitalism.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (0)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#44103595)

It is not really deception unless they say that they are not mingled.

Re: Sounds like BS to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103653)

Sorry, that is far too reasonable an argument. The one that annoys me the most is Google. They use a color on their ads that, IMHO, by no coicisence can be hard to discern from the background color, especially on phones with small screens.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103523)

The problem comes when advertisements look just like content, you have no idea which is which.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103551)

Regulation prevents a consortium, official or unofficial, of search engines from adopting practices harmful to consumers. It would be like saying that there is no reason for net neutrality because if Comcast and Time Warner started censoring web information that people could just switch to another service. Sometimes the market doesn't have an infinite breadth of competitors due to high start-up costs or laws already favoring the current market players.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#44103583)

It is not even remotely like that. They are not doing some that actually harms customers. Now i fhtye were purposly putting virus laden links there than yes.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44103599)

Why is thre a need to do this.. What does it matter?

Deception. The FTC is saying you can't make a paid-for ad look like a legitimate search result, because it's deceptive and unfair to both the consumer and other legitimate businesses who don't have the resources to pay Google boo-koo bucks for prime ad space. Not saying it's right or wrong, just pointing out the rationale.

As part of captialism if people get tired of getting the advertisements they will go to another search engine.

Ah, no, actually, that's a function of the free market, not capitalism in general, and as it should be abundantly clear at this point, there is not and never has been such a thing as a free market (that's not necessarily bad, BTW).

There is no reason for this.

Sure there is! It might not be a good one, or one you agree with, but there is a reason. There's always a reason.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#44103661)

Yes you are very correct. I still disagree that it is deception, since they are not actually being deceptive. By now you know how Google makes their money, unless you have been hiding under a rock.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103769)

But what would be the purpose of not highlighting advertisements, if not for deception?

I'm pretty sure it's not aesthetics.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#44103835)

There could be any number of reasons, for extra work (yes I know like 2 minutes) to aesthetics.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | about a year ago | (#44103955)

Selling all of our information to the NSA?

Re:Sounds like BS to me (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year ago | (#44103609)

This isn't about number of ads. It's about clearly labelling ads as ads.

Google's front page can look like a NASCAR car and it'll be fine as far as the FTC is concerned as long as nobody mistakes the ads for search results.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a year ago | (#44104059)

long as nobody mistakes the ads for search results

And there is the problem. You can't protect everyone from being stupid. And stupid happens a lot.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103625)

Because pure capitalism can be detrimental to society. I like FDA regulations that protect consumers from shady practices. Capitalism left unchecked leads to problems like Tulip bubbles and labor abuses. It matters because it could take traffic away from sites that are actual results and aren't paid to be there. It matters because search engine users should know whether the link they are going to is what it appears to be. For example, the URL listed in Google's results isn't where you go when you actually click the link. The link sends some info back to Google and redirects you somewhere else. Not everyone has the skill, and those with the skill have better things to do than parse a URL string in their head. I want to know I am going to X widgets official site, and something else an ad masquerading as X widgets official site that gives me malware (If using a windows machine). I fully support this regulation.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44103631)

Not if they don't know those are advertisements.

Capitalism only really works well with perfect or near perfect information. This is simply a method of adding information to the system. If you oppose that you oppose capitalism being functional.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103813)

Why is thre a need to do this.. What does it matter? As part of captialism if people get tired of getting the advertisements they will go to another search engine. There is no reason for this.

Because THAT'S WHAT GOVERNMENTS DO with your tax dollars.

Don't like it? Remember it at the ballot box next time around.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#44103947)

Because bullshit paid ad's for software are links to scumware installers. Search google for the free software "greenshot" the first two links are to installers and packagers that will fill your computer with all kinds of spyware and crap. a lot of other things are exactly like this.

non tech savvy users are having problems telling the difference between the scum and the real thing.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#44103975)

Erp: google changed this already. You dont have the Adverts at the top of the search list anymore.... Good show google!

Re:Sounds like BS to me (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#44103997)

Except this is not a problem unique to just paid ads. When there are links like that there should be a process to get them removed. Personally I am tired of the protect the user mentality. Unless google is actually being deceptive, which I dont think they are, then stop trying to dictate their buisness.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103423)

Same AC that just replied, I also wanted to say I think it is reasonable.

Example screenshots of the abuse... (5, Informative)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about a year ago | (#44103749)

Google and other ads are specifically designed to look like search results and exploit the fact that older people cannot see contrast of the background as well as younger people. Or even younger people using bad quality or badly calibrated monitors. (Or using Flux).

The contrast on the background is much lower than the federal 508 standard for contrast and I think has changed to over the years to a lighter shade as Google "optimizes" it.

http://i.imgur.com/Wmdd0.png [imgur.com]

One is an ad and one is a search result, is there much difference? Given the average quality of monitors, I think those are designed to fool even otherwise sharp eyes.

There is a border on the right of the ads but none on at the bottom. Google must be getting tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue from the color change from blue to yellow, the ones shown in the example are about $50 to $100 for each click.

http://ppcblog.com/fbf0fa-now-you-see-it [ppcblog.com]

http://blumenthals.com/blog/2012/01/31/is-google-intentionally-trying-to-minimize-the-fact-that-these-are-ads/ [blumenthals.com]

Guess they employ many behavioral psychologist super PHDs who tweaked the carefully and scientifically calibrated colors on ads and removed all contrast including borders to make many folks not realize where the ads end and the actual results begin. Forget about people going to paid websites and screwing websites that don't charge users that rank well organically because they're good and popular but don't give the Googolplex any money.

"Study:Contrast sensitivity gradually decreases with age"
http://www.eyeworld.org/article.php?sid=818&strict=0&morphologic=0 [eyeworld.org]

Corporate Motto.... (4, Funny)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about a year ago | (#44103823)

Google and other ads are specifically designed to look like search results and exploit the fact that older people cannot see contrast of the background as well as younger people. Or even younger people using bad quality or badly calibrated monitors

I was reading their corporate motto "Do no evil" on their site, and then I saw your post and upped the contrast on my monitor and then saw the entire text that was hidden earlier, "Do no evil - except when it makes us money. In that case, be very very evil." !

You and the FTC must really be on to be something here!!!

Re:Corporate Motto.... (2)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about a year ago | (#44103865)

Crap! Slashdot's "Post Anonymously" checkbox needs more contrast!

Re:Corporate Motto.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104157)

Busted...Microsoft shill is busted.

Re:Example screenshots of the abuse... (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a year ago | (#44104141)

Your second link, in the comments has a solution to the problem presented in the article. If someone has a monitor that only displays 256 colors, and doesn't display my high color picture correctly, that is my fault how? How about creating a solution to the problem, an alternative CSS for Google that can be used on older / crappier monitors, rather than complaining?

Re:Sounds like BS to me - quite the opposite (3, Insightful)

Qwavel (733416) | about a year ago | (#44103845)

I actually think that, when it comes to regulating Internet or media companies, nothing could be more important than this.

This is the ultimate line in the sand for an advertising company (or a consumer of ads). I'm generally a defender of Google, but if they were to cross this line then - for the first time - I would think they have truly become the evil that they disavowed in their inception.

And this is about the Internet in general. We need to know whether content is paid or not if we are to preserve a space for the the unpaid. Otherwise, the paid opinion will always win out since it has the money to promote itself.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44103993)

Google never indicated, to me at least, what was in the search results. I don't see how it could be deceptive.

And even if it was, does that matter, since I don't pay Google one red cent for the service?

Perhaps this will make Google results more useful. I'm rather fed up with doing a search and getting all this garbage up front which has nothing to do with the search, but tries to lure me to some business or review site. Ever notice how Urban Spoon and Yelp show up first, even when the site you are looking for has their own website?

Long-time users of Google may agree here, the results are becoming less useful as time goes by, obviously because paid or revenue producing pages are promoted over utility.

Re:Sounds like BS to me (1)

John Bokma (834313) | about a year ago | (#44104087)

You're paying Google with information.

[caps]this is not (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103245)

any of the governments business[/caps]

FTC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103287)

Wait, the FTC got there before the EU?

I agree.. (2)

sinij (911942) | about a year ago | (#44103299)

I especially dislike Google's 'light pink' sponsored links that not every screen would render in a different color. There is no way this isn't intentional.

Re:I agree.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103425)

I especially dislike Google's 'light pink' sponsored links that not every screen would render in a different color. There is no way this isn't intentional.

But that's exactly the sort of

visual cues, labels, or other techniques to effectively distinguish advertisements

that they're asking for, so your problem is...?

Re:I agree.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103505)

to effectively distinguish advertisements

I especially dislike Google's 'light pink' sponsored links that not every screen would render in a different color.

Re:I agree.. (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#44103673)

Effectively is a subjective term.

Re:I agree.. (4, Funny)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year ago | (#44103743)

I say make them use the BLINK tag.

Re:I agree.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103867)

No it isn't.

Re:I agree.. (1)

Joshua Shaffer (2895571) | about a year ago | (#44103555)

Unless I'm missing something, Google's ads also say "ad related to" inside the same tan square. You'd be able to see that even if your screen is bad at rendering colors.

Re:I agree.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103785)

The sponsored links are 'light pink'?

Cause if I'm searching for widgets (1)

kawabago (551139) | about a year ago | (#44103303)

I might not notice the ads are trying to sell me targlferfs instead. I could easily buy the wrong thing because, as an average consumer, I'm a complete idiot!

Re:Cause if I'm searching for widgets (1)

game kid (805301) | about a year ago | (#44103605)

You're still a complete idiot. Everyone knows that thingamabobs have more soluble fiber than both of them, and no late fees or phoning home. You'll never see them pass AdWords muster, though.

Re:Cause if I'm searching for widgets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103771)

You have to admit, though, that targlferfs are actually pretty cool little gizmos.

Re:Cause if I'm searching for widgets (1)

optikos (1187213) | about a year ago | (#44104125)

Oh great! Now all the targlferf fanboys are going to come out of the woodwork to strut their stuff.

As long as 'Advertisement' or designated, FTC? (1)

aisnota (98420) | about a year ago | (#44103305)

Hey, this looks like just another white wash of the whole online space by the FTC. They fail to enforce a variety of rules then come up with a smokescreen one like this story highlights. Sure the FTC is supposed to watch out. But in this case, it is a non-problem, also known as a 'red herring' on their part.

It's obvious that the FTC has no clue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103341)

Hmm.. how do they think search engine make money ? Now another government entity muddling into shit where they have no knowledge.

sometimes the ads are related to my search and helpful Other time I just ignore them. Bug deal this is one of the ways Google, Bing, and Ask.com make money.

the last thing I want is a government subsidized search engine.

Re:It's obvious that the FTC has no clue (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44103419)

By showing ads. That does not mean they are allowed to lie about results.

The last thing I want is advertising I cannot distinguish from real results.

Re:It's obvious that the FTC has no clue (2)

jader3rd (2222716) | about a year ago | (#44103833)

By showing ads. That does not mean they are allowed to lie about results.

The last thing I want is advertising I cannot distinguish from real results.

Even if you don't like it, why shouldn't they be allowed to lie? Should we begin banning lying on the internet?

Re:It's obvious that the FTC has no clue (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44103929)

Because that is called fraud.

Lying in casual conversation and lying in this sort of service are quite different. What you are suggesting means I should be able to sell miracle water that cures cancer, when in fact it does not. If you can't see why that is wrong, I am afraid you are a lost cause.

Re:It's obvious that the FTC has no clue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103475)

What is wrong with wanting to make sure ads are clearly ads rather than disguised as results?

Like maybe Google Shopping? (1)

sideslash (1865434) | about a year ago | (#44103349)

Ouch. This is going to leave a mark. (Not that I'm unhappy about it.)

Re:Like maybe Google Shopping? (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44103667)

Right. Google Shopping was originally a price comparison service. There was no charge for being listed. Then it was changed to an paid ad service. All the links on it changed to Google ad links. Our Ad Limiter [adlimiter.com] browser add-on, which hides all but one Google ad per search result, then started limiting the number of shopping results displayed. We finally allowed more ads to show through on explicit Google shopping pages.

Now, Google Shopping results have changed again, so that they look like real search results. They even have additional Google ads, with the light tan background. But in reality, every result on a Google Shopping page is a paid ad.

Re:Like maybe Google Shopping? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#44104017)

Which is why I block ALL ad's on every computer I touch. I have installed adblock plus on every single computer I have to service or use. Until advertisers get scruples, I'm blocking it for everyone I can. To this date it is about 450 people and counting that no longer see ad's online because of me, I hope to hit 1000.

OSS project impersonation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103373)

What pisses me off is scam artists using paid search ads for common open source software. Google for Open Office or 7-zip or VLC and the top paid ranks will redirect you to scams. Some try to charge you, others wrap the software you want in an installer that plants malware on your system. (If you're lucky. Often you can find worse)

Of course they could not get away with this targeting a for-profit company(They'd get sued in to the ground) but targeting free/open source/volunteer projects just disgusts me beyond words.

I wish Google would pay more attention to this.

Nice, but now for some effort where its need? (0)

razathorn (151590) | about a year ago | (#44103381)

I've never had an issue distinguishing search results from ads/sponsored results on any search engine. How about we crack down on commercials that try to pass themselves off as a news segment to get grandma's precious retirement money.

Why bother? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44103397)

If only the laws Congress passed were clearly notified with their sponsors, This Corporation or That Union.

But that would be addressing an issue at least 5 orders of magnitude bigger.

not just search engines (3, Interesting)

ncohafmuta (577957) | about a year ago | (#44103405)

not just search engine results, but identify them from even a website's local content. how many times have you gone to a site to download a file and had to figure out which button was the real download button?

Re:not just search engines (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#44103603)

And can we please, please, please get a similar demand for Facebook?

BGColor not Enough? (4, Funny)

zamboni1138 (308944) | about a year ago | (#44103407)

You mean setting the advertisement background color to #fefefe instead of #ffffff isn't good enough for the Feds?

Sounds reasonable (2)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about a year ago | (#44103415)

That requirement sounds reasonable. Google used to work that way: you had highlighted boxes at the top and on the right that contained the paid placements, and the unhighlighted regular search results in the body of the page. There's no technical reason it can't be done that way now. Lots of business reasons maybe, but no technical ones which is all the FTC should be caring about.

That doesn't mean the FTC should be unreasonably interfering in a search engines' business. But saying the search engine has to clearly indicate which results it's being paid to show people is hardly unreasonable.

It is going to work totally! Awesomely! (0)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#44103431)

Way back when the invoice price info about the cars to dealers was not easily obtainable, it had some meaning and was worth sending that 8$ to consumer reports to get it by fax. Now there are tons of sites ( edmunds.com, truecar.com cars.com kbb.com ) give this "invoice" price for free! And lo! and behold! People are getting cars for 100$ over invoice or 200$ under invoice left right and center. And the dealer is laughing all the way to the bank because the "invoice" price goes up, but "volume discounts" "dealer holdbacks" "dealer incentives" "quota meeting bonus or whatever" etc return the money back to the dealer. And we are now left with some worthless info called "invoice" price.

Only thing it has served is to find the really truly babe in the woods who walk into a dealership without knowing even this fictional "invoice" price. You can hear the champagne corks popping when someone starts negotiating from the X below MSRP instead of Y above invoice.

Re:It is going to work totally! Awesomely! (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44103657)

You negotiate for Y BELOW invoice these days. This is because of holdback and other BS.

Re:It is going to work totally! Awesomely! (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#44103697)

Yeah, now FTC is somehow is going to make the search engines distinguish paid-ad from unpaid-search? How? Corporations are people. If A sells, but B pays google in some obfuscated way for the product of A, how can anyone untangle the web?

Re:It is going to work totally! Awesomely! (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44103745)

1. Corporations are not people.
2. I think at least the most transparent amount of fraud will be reduced by this.

The invoice thing is totally different.

Double standard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103437)

Deceptive? Has the FTC watched any TV commercials recently? Commercials are contradictory, with video sending one message and unreadable fine print sending another.

Woodrow Wilson still fucking us from the grave (0)

odigity (266563) | about a year ago | (#44103465)

He established the FTC in 1914 for "antitrust" purposes, and now these assholes are dictating web page design to google? Is there anything the government feels is outside of their absolute power to control?

These are the same guys that operate on the following logic:

* IF you are charging more than your competitors THEN guilty of price-gouging
* IF you are charging less than your competitors THEN guilty of predatory pricing
* IF you are charging the same as your competitors THEN guilty of price collusion

Can we all just succeed already and let the Federal monster die of starvation?

Re:Woodrow Wilson still fucking us from the grave (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103593)

* If you are charging significantly more than your costs for a product that is critical to its consumers and you have no competitors THEN possibly guilty of price-gouging.
* If you are charging less than your costs for a product for a sustained period of time with consequental damage to your competitors and, upon subsequent investigation, there is evidence you're doing this deliberately to destroy your competition THEN possibly guilty of predatory pricing.
* If you are charging the same as your competitors, and upon subsequent investigation, it turns out to be the result of a voluntary agreement between you and your competitors, THEN possibly guilty of price collusion.

FTFY. You might, incidentally, want to look at what these terms mean as your apparent criteria didn't make any sense whatsoever. Nobody's ever been investigated for charging less than their competitors, only for charging less than their apparent costs.

Re:Woodrow Wilson still fucking us from the grave (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103665)

You're an idiot.

Re:Woodrow Wilson still fucking us from the grave (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44103683)

seceed, not succeed.

And no, no we can't; gotta find another way... perhaps a method of sending a 'vote of no confidence' to those in charge?

Personally, I think we should all stop paying federal taxes.

Re:Woodrow Wilson still fucking us from the grave (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103825)

secede

Re:Woodrow Wilson still fucking us from the grave (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103837)

What do you want to succeed at?

Good (1)

rsborg (111459) | about a year ago | (#44103617)

Though it's been quite stellar for years, ever since the DoubleClick acquisition, Google's DNA has become more spammy [1]. Not that Bing is any saint [2], and Microsoft has it's sordid history with not showing "linux" search results (before Bing days).

This kind of intervention from big bad government might do something to keep the search engines from devolving into glorified billboards.

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/google-is-blurring-the-lines-between-ads-and-search-results-2012-4 [businessinsider.com]
[2] http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/microsofts-bing-uses-google-search.html [blogspot.com]

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103827)

Google became popular because they were plan, without real ads. Now that they are going away from that, someone else will pop up and take their place soon enough. And then Google will either back off cause they are in danger of losing their user base, or they will go the way of MS Search, Yahoo, etc and fall into use by old fogeys who are just too stubborn to change.

Re:Good (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | about a year ago | (#44103859)

This kind of intervention from big bad government might do something to keep the search engines from devolving into glorified billboards.

Why should the government be in a position to prevent this? Companies should be allowed to devolve all they want.

Doesn't matter anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103637)

FTC is unconstitutional and has no authority over this.

Re:Doesn't matter anyway (1)

bmk67 (971394) | about a year ago | (#44104085)

Section 8, 3rd item.

You're welcome.

While the Interstate Commerce Clause may be stretched to meaninglessness in many cases, this is not one of those times.

do search engines profess to be unbiased? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103789)

Do some/many/all search engines make any promises that results will be unbiased? I'm not sure they do and if they don't, who is the FTC to step in and force them to make them so? I think all that Google promises is to give you results based on your query terms. Why shouldn't they be allowed to throw ads in?

Ultimately, if the ads are tainting the results too much, people will find better search engines and Google (or whichever search engine you want to substitute) will die. In case the FTC doesn't know, that's called "the free market".

How about you bastards fix... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103791)

below the line fees from service businesses such as cable and cellular? That is blatant false advertising and you pricks don't give two shits about it.

"99 bucks a month for unlimited talk, text and data" my left nut! With taxes and fees its over 20% more than that at least.

Also eliminate unliimited from advertising, its not unlimited, its either rate or speed limited pretty much everywhere now.

Then, THEN you can work on sponsored links mixed in among actual search results. Dicks.

The FCC can do what now? (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | about a year ago | (#44103799)

Given that this isn't being broadcast in a one to many network, and that it's not interfering with communication infrastructure, why does the FCC have authority to do something like this?

Eff Tee See (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103937)

whoever upmodded you needs to go back and read too. Its the FTC not the FCC, Federal Trade Commission. And they do indeed have the authority to do something like this as it is about business advertising.

They still need to admonish businesses using below the line fees to jack up their prices before worrying about how google and other search engines advertise.

Re:The FCC can do what now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44103971)

FTC as in Federal Trade Commission, not the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission.

Re:The FCC can do what now? (1)

bmk67 (971394) | about a year ago | (#44104051)

Eff TEE Cee

Might want to get your eyes checked. Just sayin'.

Facebook / Twitter next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104027)

Google ads are easier to recognize than "sponsored posts" one finds in Facebook or Twitter feeds.

Google does this now (well, according to Google) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104033)

It would appear that Google has never taken money to improve/change search results, and paid ads are already distinguished from search results. I don't know the status of other search engines.

https://www.google.com/competition/howgoogleadswork.html#section2

Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44104113)

Fantastic news for me. I hold two lucrative patents. One for rendering advertising distinguishable from search results on a computer. The other one for rendering advertising distinguishable from search results on a mobile device.

Now I lie and wait for 15 years before I act.

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