It was with interest that we noted the European Union anti-trust allegations against Google. If I understand the accusations properly, they focus primarily on traffic manipulation that favors their own products and services.
We belong to a group of small sellers that deal in vintage clothing and there's been extensive conversation about an immediate drop in sales for all of us that occurred simultaneously with a major Google algorithm release last year. The drop in sales appears to be correlated to highly reduced visibility for authentic vintage offered by small sellers.
Searches for vintage now yield either "vintage style", "vintage inspired" or reproduction vintage that is mass produced by larger manufacturers who can afford to fund Google results. For instance, a search for "vintage dress", aside from Etsy, yields only reproduction vintage websites on the first page of results.
I must admit that we don't understand all of the machinations involved and, of course, Google needs to be secretive in order to dissuade manipulation of search results.
However, it seems to me that Google's mission should be to return search results that are in keeping with the searcher's intents - when someone searches for vintage clothing, they, for the most part, expect authentic vintage, not reproductions.
If those with the deepest pockets get to influence search results, this doesn't seem to be copacetic with the goal of providing accurate information in a neutral manner. It most certainly doesn't favor the small vintage seller as their business model is based on a love of what they do, not on a focus for large profit.
It would seem to me that due to their monopoly power, Google has a responsibility to act in a manner more consistent with their mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful".
As it stands now, they are acting as a typical corporation, simply seeking to maximize profit, by returning results that are manipulated by monetary considerations, instead of returning information as requested by the person searching.
Ina, I think that this would be an interesting topic for you to explore as it has to do with the net neutrality discussion that is now ongoing.