DOJ v. Google: Survey Results
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is pursuing an antitrust lawsuit against Google for “unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets and to remedy the competitive harms.” Former Attorney General Barr stated that Google’s monopoly harms “users, advertisers, and small businesses in the form of fewer choices, reduced quality (including on metrics like privacy), higher advertising prices, and less innovation.” If a company (e.g., Google) has too much centralized control over an industry (e.g., search engines), consumers potentially lose their ability to choose. Some have alleged that the scope of the antitrust lawsuit was too narrow, and the way the lawsuit’s scope was structured could leave Google in a more advantageous position than before the lawsuit was filed.
At the time of this article, 13 states have joined the DOJ in this antitrust lawsuit against Google. These parties want Google to cease exclusionary deals with device manufacturers and internet browser companies (i.e., Firefox, Safari).
The DOJ’s case against Google is one of a growing number of antitrust lawsuits that Google is currently facing. Thirty-five states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C., have also filed lawsuits against Google alleging that the company maintained its monopoly in the search engine market by abusing its power in the smart speaker, voice assistant, voice connected cars, and digital advertising markets. A Texas-led lawsuit accuses Google of monopolizing online display advertising, and in cooperation with Facebook, manipulating online display advertising auctions.
Method & Case Summary
After reviewing several news media articles and videos about the DOJ’s complaint, we conducted a survey project  that included a brief summary of its antitrust lawsuit against Google. The summary, shown below, identified some of the DOJ’s allegations and part of a reaction from one of Google’s executives.
 This survey of 1,041 United States’ residents included questions on a variety of other issues including data privacy, social media, attitudes related to the coronavirus epidemic, and the FTC’s antitrust case against Facebook.
After reading the case summary shown above, participants answered four questions:
1) Prior to reading this summary, were you aware that there was an antitrust lawsuit against Google?
2) How strong is the DOJ’s case against Google?
3) If you were asked to be a juror in this case, would you favor the DOJ or Google?
4) If you favored [Google/DOJ], please explain why you would favor [Google/DOJ].
1) Were Participants Aware of the Lawsuit?
Thirty-eight percent of the 1,041 people we surveyed had heard about the case before reading the summary. The story was picked up by news outlets in October of 2020, when the case was filed, and there have been few reports about antitrust cases against Google since then. Ironically, the most thorough summaries of new coverage and web searches about the lawsuit can be found on Google Trends.
2) How Strong Did They Think the Case Was?
A little more than half of the participants (55%) said the case was “very” (16%) or “somewhat” (39%) strong. Thirty-eight percent of our sample believed the case against Google was “not too strong.” Only 7% of the respondents said that the DOJ’s antitrust lawsuit against Google was “not strong at all.”
3) Which Party Did They Favor?
Eighteen percent of our sample said that they would “definitely” favor the DOJ, and 30% said that they would “probably” favor the DOJ after reading the case summary. A slight majority of our survey’s participants (52%) favored Google; 40% of the participants said they would “probably” favor Google, and 12% said that they would “definitely” favor Google.
4) Why Did They Favor the Party They Did?
After indicating which party participants would favor, we asked them to explain why they would favor that party. Many of the reasons for favoring the DOJ centered around the size of Google’s market share, its data collection practices, and Google’s method of promoting certain companies in search results. Reasons for favoring Google focused on the fact that there are other search engines on the market, that consumers can change their default search engine, and that people use Google because of its merits, not because of its dominance.
- Government regulation is the only thing that can end Google’s search engine monopoly.
- Google is too powerful, a bully to competitors.
- Many people do not know how to change their default search engine.
- Google alters search results to further their own agenda.
- Its practices are affecting the cost of consumer goods.
- Google has too much private and personal data from users of its search engines.
- Other search engine companies should get a real chance to compete.
- It is easy to change the default search engine.
- Google’s dominance is a reflection of it being innovative, the first in the industry.
- People use Google’s search engine because is popular, accurate, and efficient.
- Consumers have the power to choose to use whichever search engine they want to use.
- Other companies, like Microsoft, engage in similar business practices.
- There are other search engines on the market.
- Companies have the right to make Google the default search engine.
- They’re satisfied with and loyal to Google’s brand of products.