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Google's Power to Close Businesses

It’s no secret that Google can steer Internet traffic to certain websites, but can Google affect traffic to brick and mortar stores across the country?

According to The New York Times, the answer is yes.

Today, the Times reported on companies across the country that are finding themselves listed as “permanently closed” on Google Places, causing drops in sales and bookings. And not only have these companies reported being “cyberpadlocked” but they’re also having difficulty getting Google’s attention to fix the problem.

Usually when companies have trouble with Google, Google is quick to say that competition in search and search advertising is just one click away. But today’s story proves this wrong – even when you’re offline, there’s no escaping the search giant.

Given this article, it’s no surprise that Google snapped up sponsorships this week for Politico’s popular Playbook and Morning Tech newsletters. Google has been using this forum to tout its (arguable) role in helping small businesses.

So far this week, Google has highlighted stories from Wisconsin and Connecticut – two states represented on the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee which is holding its hearing on Google on Sept. 21.

Sure. It could just be a coincidence.

Let’s wait and see if the next three days bring stories from other Antitrust Subcommittee states like Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Texas, Utah or Vermont.