The Wall Street Journal wrote, “U.S. Fines Google, Microsoft, Yahoo“.
I find this to be yellow journalism. I don’t really care that the article is about Microsoft & Google, so this isn’t about my biases. From reading the title, I sort of expected that Google got hit the hardest. This doesn’t seem unlikely since the Google search engine is by far the biggest. But, when you read the content of the article, you discover that the size of the fines were:
So, the title was intentionally misleading us about the nature of the fines. Anyone not looking carefully would have assumed from the title (like I did) that Google was hit hardest.
I wonder if you could write an “unbiased news” app. One which just takes titles, shuffles them around to get similar but less colored meaning. This would help make sure your eyes don’t accidentally process titles as facts. It’s all too easy to do.
The real story should have been, “Why were the 3 companies fined so differently?” And why did Microsoft get hit so hard? Poor negotiations? Or something else. The press release from the DOJ says nothing useful. But it does provide the text of the contracts with each company. Each was drafted separately (no doubt due to the legions of lawyers hired by the big 3). None of the contracts are specific about how the penalties were derived.
Each contract has similar text about, “In particular, the United States alleges and <company> neither contests nor admits, that on or about, and during, that time period, <company>, received payments from, or attributable to, on-line gambling businesses… The United States will move for the forfeiture of these funds…”
The Microsoft contract then states, “These funds are represented in full by the Four and a Half Million US Dollars…”
The Google contract then states, “These funds are represented in full by the Three Million US Dollars…”
The Yahoo contract then states, “These funds are represented in full by the Three Million US Dollars…”
OK – so, if the funds were represented by these amounts, why did Microsoft and Yahoo get screwed?