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SAN FRANCISCO — Attacking an increasingly popular Internet business practice, a consumer watchdog group filed a complaint Monday with the Federal Trade Commission asserting that many online search engines are concealing the impact special fees have on search results by Internet users.
Commercial Alert, a three-year-old group founded by consumer activist Ralph Nader, asked the FTC to investigate whether eight of the Web’s largest search engines are violating federal laws against deceptive advertising.
The group said the search engines are abandoning objective formulas to determine the order of their listed results, and selling the top spots to the highest bidders without making adequate disclosures to Web surfers.