Australia discussed billing Google and Facebook payments for local newspapers that appear on both sites. Google has apparently started to act to prevent this: the company is testing a change in the search engine to not show journalistic sites to users nationwide.
The change was first identified by the Australian Financial Review and then confirmed by Google to the English newspaper The Guardian. Readers of the Australian version of Guardian also reported that when they logged into Google, the search results did not show the Guardian Australia website, but only the newspaper’s pages on Twitter, Facebook and Wikipedia. .
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Officially, a company spokesperson said the move was a test that is expected to hit 1% of users in Australia by February and aims to measure the impact of news sites on the search engine and vice versa. .
Context and context make it hard to believe this rationale. Last year, the Australian government announced plans to force Google and Facebook to share their ad revenue with local news sites. The companies, of course, didn’t like the idea and said the change would compromise users’ access to the news.
Google’s track record also suggests that the company may simply choose to modify their product to circumvent the law. The company took Google News off the airwaves in Spain when the country tried to take a similar measure and changed the way journalistic content is displayed so that it doesn’t have to pay French websites in 2019. Even in Brazil, there is had a similar case: there was in 2012, members of the National Association of Newspapers (ANJ) deleted their content from Google News.
One of the major criticisms leveled at Google – which has even been the subject of legal action – is that the company has, in practice, become an ads and search monopoly, with the ability to dictate prices and force adoption of its technologies. As a result, journalistic sites end up with just 30% to 40% of the money advertisers pay, according to a study. The company is trying to remedy this with funds for journalism and tools for publications, which are far from sufficient for the financial needs of the news media.
Currently, the collection measure, known as the Press Bargaining Code, is under review by an Australian Senate committee before returning to the country’s parliament.
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