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Google Hides Australian News From Local Searches In “Experience”

Sydney: Google has begun hiding Australian news sites from some local users, in an experiment that comes amid Canberra’s push to force tech companies to pay media for their content.

Australia plans to force Google and Facebook to pay media organizations when their platforms host their content or face millions of dollars in fines, in one of the world’s most aggressive steps to check the power of the US digital giants.

The “world first” rules, due to take effect this year, will apply to Facebook’s News Feed and Google searches. And tech companies have angered.

The Australian Financial Review reports that Google has been banning several major commercial news outlets including its headline and News Corp papers and Guardian Australia from a small number of search users.

Old links or content from other websites have reportedly appeared instead.

A Google spokesman said the changes were part of its “tens of thousands of experiments”.

“We are currently conducting some experiments that will each reach about 1% 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 that we provided to publishers through referral visits alone was estimated at A $ 218 million,” he added.

Google previously warned that “the way Australians use Google is at risk” if the law goes into effect, while Facebook has threatened to prevent Australian users and media organizations from sharing news stories.

The initiative has been closely watched around the world, as news media around the world are struggling in an increasingly digital economy as major tech companies absorb advertising revenue drastically.

A Google spokesman said the trials were due to end in early February.

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