Google has taken the extraordinary step of trialling the suppression of search results that link to commercial news outlets, part of a campaign against the proposed News Media Bargaining Code, as the search giant claims the draft law will undermine the service it provides.
Why it matters: In a situation in which Google is arguing that Australia should not legislate to let commercial publishers bargain collectively with platform companies, flexing its singular power over them is a strange move, given that it goes a long way in showing why publishers have a case for levelling the playing field.
- Reporting in the Australian Financial Review found that for some users commercial news sites like The Guardian and The Australian were affected for a small fraction of search users.
- State-owned ABC appears to have been unaffected.
- Google, noting that it runs “tens of thousands” of experiments each year, said that it is committed to finding a “workable” code.
- The reason for the experiments is to “measure the impacts of news businesses and Google search on each other”.
- It also pointed out the value it provides to publishers, which can also be read as the publisher revenues that Google effectively controls.
- The code, which WARC wrote about recently, is currently under a Senate committee review.
- In a blog post released earlier this week, Google Australia outlined some of its objections to the proposals – and those of other companies in agreement – with arguments ranging from providing special treatment to one kind of content business, hurting the internet’s neutrality, and further impacting media diversity in the country.
“What these experiments in Australia have actually proved, in reality, is that Google has inordinate power: it can disappear news and news content entirely if it wants to” – Belinda Barnet, senior lecturer in media and communications at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, writing in the Guardian.
Sourced from Australian Financial Review, WARC, Google, The Guardian