Google ‘Experiment’ blocks Australian messages from local searches

Google has started hiding Australian news sites from some local users. This is an experiment that is causing Canberra to force technology companies to pay media for their content.

Australia plans to force Google and Facebook to pay media companies if their platforms host their content or face millions in fines. This is one of the most aggressive moves in the world to test the power of US digital giants.

The “world first” rules, due to take effect this year, apply to Facebook’s “News Feed” – and Google searches – and have drawn the ire of tech companies.

The Australian Financial Review reported that Google has blocked several large commercial news outlets, including the Legal Notice, News Corp and Guardian Australia newspapers, from a small number of search users.

Reports have shown that old links or content from other websites have been displayed instead.

A Google spokesman said the changes are part of the “tens of thousands of experiments” it is conducting.

“We are currently running some experiments, each reaching around 1 percent of Google search users in Australia, to measure the impact of news companies and Google search on each other,” he said in a statement.

“In 2018, the value we provided to publishers through referral traffic alone was estimated at A $ 218 million (approximately Rs.1,35 million),” he added.

Google previously warned “the way Aussies use Google will be at risk” if the law goes into effect, while Facebook has threatened to prevent users and media organizations in Australia from sharing news.

The initiative has been watched closely around the world as the news media around the world is suffering from an increasingly digital economy, where advertising revenue is largely generated by large technology companies.

The experiments should be completed in early February, said the Google spokesman.

© Thomson Reuters 2020


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