May 26, 2024
  • Google has decided to temporarily remove Calfironian news sites from the search results for certain users from the state
  • This decision comes after California decided to pass a bill that will make the company pay for linking to news sites
  • Google feels it will undermine small news site owners and local journalists and only big media houses will benefit from it

Google To Remove Links To Californian News Site Amidst New Bill 

On Friday (April 12), Google announced that it would remove links to Californian news websites from the search results for certain Californians.

This decision was made after California decided to pass a bill called the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA) that will require Google to pay a fee for connecting Californians to news sources from the state.

The bill was passed in 2023 on the Assembly Floor but for it to become a law, it also needs to be passed by the senate and the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom.

This news came through an official Google blog that said the decision is temporary for now.

As per Jaffer Zaidi, Google’s vice president of global news, it’s just a “short-term test for a small percentage of California users” to check how the bill affects its day-to-day operations.

The blog did not reveal how the long trial would run, how many users would be affected during the trial, and what news sites would be blocked.

What Else Does Google Have To Say About This?

Google announced that until there’s more clarity from regulators about the bill, it will halt investment in news in the state.

1. Small News Houses Will Suffer

Google added that a lot of small publishers and bloggers benefit from being listed on Google. After all, it’s the search engine in the world right now with more than 5.6 billion searches per day.

So, a news website listed on Google can expect to get decent traffic and generate a good amount of revenue from the platform. However, all that changes if Google removes those sites from its platform.

The company also feels that a bill like this will only benefit large media houses and hedge funds (they have been lobbying for this bill for a long time) who will buy out local news publishers and small-time journalists.

2. Quality of News Will Be Compromised

The quality of news will also be affected as authentic news sources will be replaced by skeleton crews who will produce low-quality content because quantity and profit will matter more to them than the actual news.

On top of that, with most news sources being controlled by conglomerates, there will be less diversity and a few selected companies will be able to control the entire news industry in the state.

Why Is The California Government Forcing Google To Pay?

If the regulators are passing a bill that affects so many people, they definitely have a good reason for that. While Google thinks that this bill will affect the small news outlets, the supporters of this bill feel that smaller news sites will actually make more profit from this model.

  • According to the bill, eligible Californian news outlets will have to submit a notice to Google.
  • It will then check how many links from that outlet have been published on Google and served Californian users.
  • Depending on that, Google will have to share a small percentage of its advertising revenue with the news publisher.

Buffy Wicks, the California assembly member behind the bill, also said that their only purpose is to ensure tech giants like Google pay for the content they use. This bill is about fairness.

However, at the same time, they understand the need to find a common ground for the well-being of the news industry. Hence, they have decided to be in touch with Google and other stakeholders to ensure that the final outcome is fair to all.

Google also shares similar sentiments. It said that despite its reservations, it will continue to work with the lawmakers in order to keep supporting the news ecosystem in California.

Not The First Time

This isn’t the first time a tech company has been asked to pay for news. Many countries and governments around the world have passed similar laws.

🛑Last year Google announced that it would remove links from Canadian news sites after the government passed the Online News Act, requiring the company to compensate local news companies.

🛑Meta also banned Canadian users from sharing news on its apps. For similar reasons, it is also planning to dwindle down its news business in the US and Australia.

Additionally, Facebook has also decided to remove its news tab from European countries like Germany, France, and the UK.

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