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Google will “work constructively” with South Africa

July 18, 2022

By Chris Forrester

Google is facing examination by South Africa’s Competition Commission (CC) with allegations that the search engine occupies a near-monopolistic position in the country, especially on the nation’s users of smartphones. Moreover, the CC says that Google does not make sufficiently clear that its top recommendations are often the result of ‘paid for’ advertising.

Google has responded by saying that it will “work constructively” with CC to counter its provisional findings that suggest Google should be forced to be clearer as to which of its recommendations are backed by advertising.

The CC in its provisional findings said: “The prevalence of paid search at the top of the search results page without adequate identifiers as advertising raises platform customer acquisition costs and favours large, often global platforms. Preferential placement of their own specialist search units also distorts competition in Google’s favour.”

The CC added that borders and shading, on the search results, should be clearer to users.

Google, in its response, stated: “Our mission is to organise information and make it universally accessible and useful. That’s why we invest in products like Search, Gmail and Maps to help people in South Africa every day. Our products increase choice and expand competition. They level the playing field for small businesses everywhere — enabling them to sell their products, find customers, reduce their costs and, in difficult times, get back on their feet. The competition Google faces is always increasing: there are more ways than ever that people can find information, from specialised sites for travel and shopping, or from other search engines, social media and elsewhere.”

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