Daily Mail Sues Google, Claims Royal Family Search Results Were Suppressed

Tech giant pushes outlets down in search results if they don’t sell enough ads through Google’s ad platform, new lawsuit claims

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The owner of The Daily Mail sued Alphabet, the parent company of Google, on Tuesday, claiming the tech giant penalizes outlets in its search rankings if they don’t sell enough ads via Google’s ad marketplace. The antitrust lawsuit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, also claimed Google suppressed its coverage of the Royal Family last year.

This story was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The Daily Mail’s owner, Associated Newspapers Ltd., together with its U.S. wing, Mail Media Inc., claimed Google has abused its market dominance by connecting its search engine and ad-sales platform in order to pressure media outlets into paying more money, according to the WSJ.

“The lack of competition for publishers’ inventory depresses prices and reduces the amount and quality of news available to readers, but Google ends up ahead because it controls a growing share of the ad space that remains,” the lawsuit said, per Reuters.

On top of that, the lawsuit claimed Google suppressed its coverage of the Royal Family last year, pushing its stories down when listing search results for terms like “Prince Phillip,” “Meghan and Harry” and “Piers Morgan.” This wasn’t the first time The Daily Mail was punished by Google, either, according to its lawsuit. Google, the lawsuit claimed, hurt The Daily Mail’s search results in 2019 because the outlet set up its online ad sales “in a way that sent its business away from Google in many instances,” per the WSJ. The tech giant later “tweaked its technology to counteract the tactic,” the Journal reported, and restored The Daily Mail to its previous search engine levels.

Google did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

The Daily Mail claimed in its lawsuit it gets 75 million unique visitors in the United States each month. The lawsuit is seeking an unspecified amount in damages; it’s also calling on Google to offer more transparency into how its search algorithm works and for the company to stop hurting publishers that don’t sell enough ads through its ad platform.

Google is the world’s dominant digital ad platform. The company, based out of Mountain View, California, reported $181.7 billion in revenue last year, and most of that — $146.9 billion — came from ad sales. Google is under scrutiny right now, though, as it faces an antitrust lawsuit from the U.S. Justice Department. The Justice Department’s lawsuit, filed last October, claimed “monopolist” Google has used “anticompetitive tactics” to maintain its dominance in search and advertising. A rep for Google said the lawsuit is “deeply flawed.”

You can read more about that lawsuit, and why some antitrust experts think it’ll be a tricky case for the Justice Department, by clicking here.


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