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Is Google Bad ... or Wicked Good?

Alyce Lomax
June 30, 2011

This article is part of our Rising Stars Portfolio series.

When I purchased shares of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) for my Rising Stars portfolio, I contended that, "Despite its occasional difficulties in avoiding 'evil,' it manages to stay largely positive in often surprising ways." Does the Federal Trade Commission's recent move to formally probe Google on antitrust grounds mean the search giant isn't so socially responsible?

There are few details of the complaints or allegations that the FTC plans to lodge against Google, although we all know of the company's powerful presence in online information. The Wall Street Journal recently cited the infamous "people familiar with the matter," who believe the FTC is probing whether Google has abused its power in Internet search and advertising.

"Abuse" sounds pretty evil -- until you remember that the FTC has gotten this sort of thing wrong before. In 2007, when it tried to block Whole Foods Market's (Nasdaq: WFM  ) acquisition of rival Wild Oats on antitrust grounds, I seriously wondered whether FTC regulators actually resided on a different planet. The situation simply made no sense in a real-world context.