The phrase "pure as the driven snow" doesn't account for the fact that each snowflake forms around a particle of detritus. The motto "don't be evil" was once boasted by Google, but, oh, how we wish it had been claimed by snow.

Google now faces an antitrust suit, and gloppy frozen precipitation — many inches of it in some places — spread across Minnesota on Tuesday.

Regarding the snow: It's beautiful. But it's mid-October. Some people like winter. But it's mid-October. Who really wants a party guest to arrive early?

As for Google, the germ of the idea behind the company was to create a search engine that simply produced, without fuss or exploitation, the most applicable result. And Google's algorithms did. On Jan. 17, 2000, this very Editorial Board marveled at how swiftly the service had supplanted the old ways of gathering information "in a world that was no longer small."

But that was then. Twenty years of e-commerce have ensued, and on Tuesday, the U.S. Justice Department formally accused Google of using exclusive business contracts and agreements to maintain an illegal monopoly over search and search advertising.

Wicked? Sure. But illegal? It'll take years of court battles before we know.

What's clear for now is that a Google search, powerful though it may be, is not as clean and precise as it once was. It may not entirely be Google's fault. On Tuesday, when an editorial writer sought to confirm that each snowflake really is dirty at the core, the search engine produced a flurry of results about the data platform company Snowflake (a recent IPO) and about the pejorative slang use of the word (a staple in the culture wars).

A link to an actual explanation of how snowflakes, the meteorological kind, form? Bottom of page three.