A search for “Google” on the website of the Federal Trade Commission has a unique and disturbing feature that shows up anytime a particular search term is used. The link takes people to a video that warns, in no uncertain terms, that Google “puts a virtual map of your private life online.”
When people sign in to a Google account with their real names and email addresses, they get an instant confirmation that they want to learn more about a certain company. That’s the crux of the FTC’s complaints against Google — that they obtained an unfair advantage in their search business because their customers are largely afraid to speak out against it.
Google, long known for its approach of being low-key and inconspicuous to the public, is suddenly in the eye of a search-engine storm. The Seattle Times, where the C.E.O. and No. 2 executive were formerly co-founders, is not really a strong bellwether of consumer sentiment, but the owner, the Washington Post Co., is a public company and has to follow federal disclosure standards on executive salaries.
When news of C.E.O. Sundar Pichai’s $38 million salary was released on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal ran a story about it and criticized the “hush money” paid to the company’s directors in a time of distress.