Google’s Bard chatbot sides with US Department of Justice in advertising antitrust case, in latest embarrassment for tech giant
The statement was made to Hong Kong-based app researcher Jane Manchun Wong after she asked whether it would “side with the Justice Department or Google” in the case.
“Google has a monopoly in the digital advertising market, and this has allowed the company to engage in anticompetitive behaviour,” the chatbot wrote.
It continued that Google had “acquired its competitors, forced website publishers to use its tools, and restricted access to its ad exchange”, and that it hoped the court would side with the Justice Department and “order Google to take steps to break up its monopoly”.
After Wong posted the exchange on her Twitter account last week Google released a statement saying that Bard “can sometimes give inaccurate or inappropriate information that doesn’t represent Google’s views”.
It added that Bard “should not respond in a way that endorses a particular viewpoint on subjective topics”.
Upon its release to a limited public last week, reviewers noted that Bard had noticeably more controls in place than better-known competitor ChatGPT and tended to stay away from sensitive topics.
The firm apparently took quick action to ensure the episode wouldn’t be repeated, as another test on Friday found that Bard now replied, “I’m not able to help with that, as I’m only a language model.”
Update: Google Bard no longer answers whether it sides with the DOJ or Google in the antitrust case pic.twitter.com/eXlK74oI7H
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) March 24, 2023
Motion to dismiss
The incident came as Google parent company Alphabet requested a court to dismiss the Justice Department’s case on Monday, arguing the agency had been “unable to find support for their claimed antitrust harms”.
The Justice Department filed the case in January along with eight states, arguing Google should be forced to sell its ad exchange business. Google has denied wrongdoing.
The company said in its motion that the government had erred in defining the online ad market, improperly excluding powerful competitors such a Facebook, and that even so its estimate of Google’s exchange as controlling “more than 50 percent” of the market fell short of the 70 percent threshhold for alleging market power.
The company urged US Judge Leonie Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia to hold a hearing to consider the motion to dismiss.