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Google in Australia under fire for omitting news sites from search results

Google is under fire in Australia after banning local news media from search results and Google News as an ‘experiment’. Google did this after the Australian government proposed to oblige Facebook and Google to pay for showing local news.

Google states that it ran “a number of experiments” in Australia that reached about one percent of search engine users in Australia. Those experiments were aimed at excluding certain Australian commercial news sites from search results and news. Google calls it a ‘tweak of the algorithm’ and says it does ‘thousands of experiments like this every year’.

In April 2020, the Australian government proposed a law aimed at tackling the power of Google and Facebook in spreading news. The law states that Google and Facebook must meet with Australian news media to pay for showing news content on their platforms. The law is currently being discussed by a senate committee.

Spain tried something similar in 2014 by demanding copyright revenue from Google for displaying news from Spanish media in Google News. In response , Google pulled the plug from the Spanish version of Google News. French authorities stated last year that Google must pay for news snippets, after which the company removed French publishers from Google News. In Germany, Brazil and Canada, among others, Google is in talks with media companies to pay for the use of content that is normally behind a paywall.

Critics say Google wants to show just how powerful it is with the experiment in Australia. “Google shows how easily it can effectively make Australian news media out of favor disappear from the Internet,” a spokesman for Nine, the publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald told The Guardian . “This is a chilling illustration of Google’s dominance.”

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