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Author Topic:   What Is Australia's Problem With News in Google and Facebook
Percy
Member
Posts: 20113
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.2


Message 1 of 58 (884453)
02-20-2021 10:00 AM


I don't use Facebook, so let me start with Google. The only thing I know about Google and news is their Google News webpage. I scan its headlines every day. I click on an article and am taking to the news source's webpage for that article. The news source's webpage usually has ads, and I am now at the news source's website with many links to other pages of their website. Why isn't this a good thing for news sources? Why do they want compensation for an extremely widely used webpage that provides links to their site?

AbE: I just saw that Google introduced a new product called Google News Showcase in Australia late last year. A cursory search didn't turn up a link to it, so I don't know what it's like, but it looks like it mines news sites and builds what is merely a much prettier (and perhaps more configurable, let us pray) Google News webpage. I think it's still just links back to the news sources' webpages.

Since I don't use Facebook I have to speculate from a few facts I've picked up from reading news articles. I get the impression that news organizations have Facebook pages where they display some of their content and have links back to their own webpages. Again, why isn't this a good thing for news sources? Why do they want compensation for an extremely widely used social media site that provides them eyeballs and links back to home base?

It seems like the news sources want the money to flow in the wrong direction, that they want Google and Facebook to pay them for the privilege of providing them a free and very beneficial service. What am I missing?

--Percy

Edited by Percy, : AbE.


Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by PaulK, posted 02-20-2021 10:32 AM Percy has responded

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 16861
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 4.0


Message 2 of 58 (884455)
02-20-2021 10:32 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Percy
02-20-2021 10:00 AM


The basics are simple.

Facebook and Google make lots of money from advertising.

The newspapers used to make lots of money from advertising, but don’t any more.

The Murdoch organisation is really upset about that.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Percy, posted 02-20-2021 10:00 AM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by Percy, posted 02-20-2021 11:18 AM PaulK has responded
 Message 5 by Percy, posted 02-20-2021 12:08 PM PaulK has responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20113
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.2


(1)
Message 3 of 58 (884456)
02-20-2021 11:18 AM
Reply to: Message 2 by PaulK
02-20-2021 10:32 AM


But news media sites also contain paid-for advertising, and Google and Facebook provide links to their content. It is advantageous to news media sites to have Google and Facebook link to news media pages. Why don't Google and Facebook just say to the news media companies, "Since you think we should pay you for the privilege of providing you a service for free that makes you money, we'll just stop providing you that free service."

If you're just saying that greed explains the news media's demands then I understand that, but in that case it makes no sense that Google caved and began negotiating deals with news media companies. And Facebook is facing efforts to characterize them as taking unfair advantage of the news industry by using the leverage of their enormous size to steal revenue from them, and what I'm missing is an explanation of how that is true.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by PaulK, posted 02-20-2021 10:32 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by PaulK, posted 02-20-2021 11:27 AM Percy has responded

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 16861
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 4.0


(1)
Message 4 of 58 (884457)
02-20-2021 11:27 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by Percy
02-20-2021 11:18 AM


Facebook IS saying exactly that. They’ve gone rather further in retaliation against the Australian government (and I don’t support that) but that’s the reason Facebook is banning news links and content in Australia.

Google, on the other hand, does need the news media, so they are trying to find a compromise. Searches for news items is a big enough part of Google’s business - not to mention Google News - that it would be painful to give up.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by Percy, posted 02-20-2021 11:18 AM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by Percy, posted 02-20-2021 12:22 PM PaulK has responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20113
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.2


Message 5 of 58 (884458)
02-20-2021 12:08 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by PaulK
02-20-2021 10:32 AM


The Washington Post on Facebook
I just went to The Washington Post's page on Facebook (Washington Post). It's very nice, providing the headlines for the latest news and opinion and with greater visibility to the comments section for many articles. When you click on links you are taken to the WaPo article, but without a WaPo subscription you only get a couple free articles - after that you're asked to sign up.

I can't see the justification for a news media company like The Washington Post asking Facebook for any kind of compensation for their Facebook page that acts as a conduit to The Washington Post website (and advertising) and that Facebook provides to them for free. Are Australian news companies doing anything different from what WaPo is doing that would justify the claim?

In another thread Jar mentioned that since he had power he made a power strip available on his front porch for anyone to use to charge their phone. He was providing a service for free. The news media asking Google and Facebook to pay them money for hosting links to their websites feels the same as asking Jar to pay for the privilege of providing free electricity to the neighborhood.

In the real world portion of the Internet, companies are willing to pay money to have other websites host their links.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by PaulK, posted 02-20-2021 10:32 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by PaulK, posted 02-20-2021 12:20 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 16861
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 4.0


Message 6 of 58 (884459)
02-20-2021 12:20 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Percy
02-20-2021 12:08 PM


Re: The Washington Post on Facebook
No. Some news organisations choose to post on Facebook, and the rest is all links. Facebook is not engaged in anything shady there. There isn’t any real justification for the proposed law that I can see.

It’s surprising to find Facebook in the right, but it seems to be the case.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Percy, posted 02-20-2021 12:08 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20113
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.2


Message 7 of 58 (884460)
02-20-2021 12:22 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by PaulK
02-20-2021 11:27 AM


PaulK writes:

Google, on the other hand, does need the news media, so they are trying to find a compromise. Searches for news items is a big enough part of Google’s business - not to mention Google News - that it would be painful to give up.

I still don't understand how Google providing a link to a news article does anything to the news company but provide a benefit. Google benefits, too. Seems like a win-win situation. I don't understand why Google caved.

Google Ads is based upon this principle. Webmasters create places on their sites where Google can run ads that companies pay them to run, and when someone clicks on one of those ads then the website running it gains revenue. Making links available to click on is a benefit to the websites linked to, and companies are willing to pay for other websites to host links (in the form of ads) to their own websites.

News companies are getting links to their websites for free. I don't understand why they think they should be paid to allow someone to provide them a service for free that benefits them.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by PaulK, posted 02-20-2021 11:27 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by PaulK, posted 02-20-2021 12:39 PM Percy has responded
 Message 32 by hooah212002, posted 02-24-2021 12:47 PM Percy has responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20113
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.2


Message 8 of 58 (884461)
02-20-2021 12:31 PM


Someone Who Thinks Like Me
From Facebook’s news ban in Australia is draconian. But it might not be wrong.:

quote:
Techdirt founder and media analyst Mike Masnick, on the other hand, thought Facebook was perfectly within its rights to do what it did. He even argued that the news ban is in the best interests of a “free and open internet,” as the Australian law will force Google and Facebook to pay a “link tax” that he feels is “inherently problematic.”

“A bunch of lazy newspaper execs who failed to adapt and to figure out better internet business models not only want the traffic, they also want to get paid for it,” Masnick wrote. “This is like saying that not only should NBC have to run an advertisement for Techdirt, but it should have to pay me for it. If that seems totally nonsensical, that’s because it is. The link tax makes no sense.”


Couldn't have said it better.

--Percy


  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 16861
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 4.0


Message 9 of 58 (884462)
02-20-2021 12:39 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Percy
02-20-2021 12:22 PM


quote:
I still don't understand how Google providing a link to a news article does anything to the news company but provide a benefit. Google benefits, too. Seems like a win-win situation. I don't understand why Google caved.

I don’t think Google exactly caved - they went to negotiations. But they obviously needed the news media enough that simply banning links was not their preferred option.

quote:
News companies are getting links to their websites for free. I don't understand why they think they should be paid to allow someone to provide them a service for free that benefits them

Because they aren’t making enough. And it’s no secret that newspapers tend to lose money.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Percy, posted 02-20-2021 12:22 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by Percy, posted 02-21-2021 12:53 PM PaulK has responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20113
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.2


(1)
Message 10 of 58 (884471)
02-21-2021 12:53 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by PaulK
02-20-2021 12:39 PM


PaulK writes:

I don’t think Google exactly caved - they went to negotiations. But they obviously needed the news media enough that simply banning links was not their preferred option.

Unless the news media has a legitimate negotiating position then Google surrendered to political pressures, i.e., caved. They didn't want to be placed in the situation Facebook finds itself in now. Thinking strategically, they saw in their future congressional and parliamentary hearings on this and other matters related to their Internet dominance and decided that it was in their best interest not to add to the list of their offenses, both real and imagined. It was that they felt they didn't need more bad publicity at this time, not that they felt the news media had a legitimate gripe.

Because they aren’t making enough. And it’s no secret that newspapers tend to lose money.

News media businesses have a problem not of Google's making, and in fact Google is a net benefit to them, acting as a key resource sending eyeballs to their websites where they'll see ads that the news media gets paid for. Google bears no responsibility for bad news media financials, and in fact makes them better. If the news media thinks things are bad now, they'd be a lot worse with no Google.

The plight of the news media is partly that they're a victim of circumstance and is partly a disaster of their own making. They were extremely slow to recognize the increasing importance of the Internet in the late 90's and early 2000's, and they've been behind ever since. Many news sites plead with visitors to subscribe, and for my own part I'd like to, but I can't justify more than a few subscriptions. I'd love to subscribe to the Boston paper and my local paper and the Wall Street Journal and The Guardian and so forth, but that would represent a sizable monthly outlay.

The news media has a serious financial problem, and while going after Google and Facebook now might be politically expedient it is not a solution for the long term because Google and Facebook are not the cause of their problems.

The Australian bill also mischaracterizes what Google and Facebook do with news. The law requires companies like Google and Facebook to negotiate with news publishers on a dollar value for their content to compensate them when Google or Facebook make "content available" on their platforms. The bill defines "content available" as "if the content is reproduced on the service, or is otherwise placed on the service, or if a link to the content or an extract of the content is provided on the service."

But Google and Facebook do not themselves reproduce news content on their platforms. They only provide links, always with the headline and often with an additional tag line and image. The news outlets explicitly make this information available with <meta> tags using the "og:title" and "og:image" properties. The news media *wants* Google and Facebook to have this information to make the link/headline/image attractive enough that people will click on it.

On Facebook the egregious nature of the proposed bill is even worse, because content *is* reproduced on Facebook, but it is done by the news media companies themselves on their own Facebook pages. This is thick with irony and with opportunities for abuse. The more links and content a news media company places on their own Facebook page the more compensation they could demand from Facebook. No wonder Facebook is balking.

There's another problem. A free and open press is essential to the workings of a democracy, but once they start seeking outside funding sources they relinquish their independence. The Australian model insures that going forward there will be negotiations over the amount of compensation (and over search algorithms for Google), giving Google and Facebook the opportunity to exert pressure for more favorable coverage. And the system is ripe for abuse. If a news company doesn't treat Google right then they might find links to their site bumping down to page two or worse and leading to arguments over search algorithms.

The news media needs to find the means within themselves to independently fund their own operations. They should not jump into bed with companies like Google and Facebook through legislative fiat. They can't set a precedent of forcing the "deep pockets of the moment" to fund them. Why can't there be an EvC law that requires payments to EvC whenever somebody links to us? If that sounds completely backwards to you that's because it is.

More and more news sources are dropping their hardcopy publications. Newsweek was the first I knew of that did this. As the news media drops hardcopy publishing and the costs associated with it and its distribution they should be doing better, not worse, yet they're doing worse. Website ads get funneled onto webpages automatically by prewritten software - news media costs of publication and distribution should have dropped dramatically, yet their financials keep getting worse. Both Google and the news media make money through ads. If ads work for Google then they should also work for the news media. And some news media, like WSJ, WaPo and NYT, also get subscription money in addition to ad money.

My state has no income tax and is always short of revenue. It needs money. Google publishes links to my state's websites. My state should go after Google for payment every time Google publishes a link to a state website. Makes just as much sense as what the Australian news media is doing.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by PaulK, posted 02-20-2021 12:39 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by PaulK, posted 02-21-2021 1:17 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply
 Message 12 by nwr, posted 02-21-2021 1:41 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 16861
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 4.0


Message 11 of 58 (884473)
02-21-2021 1:17 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Percy
02-21-2021 12:53 PM


quote:
Unless the news media has a legitimate negotiating position then Google surrendered to political pressures, i.e., caved.

They tried to negotiate a better arrangement than they would likely get if the government got involved. Yes, they’ve made concessions but I don’t see it as a complete surrender.

quote:
News media businesses have a problem not of Google's making, and in fact Google is a net benefit to them, acting as a key resource sending eyeballs to their websites where they'll see ads that the news media gets paid for. Google bears no responsibility for bad news media financials, and in fact makes them better. If the news media thinks things are bad now, they'd be a lot worse with no Google.

Newspaper’s have struggled to make their web presence pay, so it’s not clear how much benefit they get from visits. And it isn’t clear how much Google drives visits. I look at the BBC website much more often than I search for news stories.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Percy, posted 02-21-2021 12:53 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 5715
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 6.4


(1)
Message 12 of 58 (884474)
02-21-2021 1:41 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Percy
02-21-2021 12:53 PM


Many news sites plead with visitors to subscribe, and for my own part I'd like to, but I can't justify more than a few subscriptions.

Yes, that's pretty much my reaction.

If I subscribe to the NY Times, and spend a lot of time reading it, perhaps it is worth the cost. But if I also subscribe to the Washington Post, then I am going to spend less time at the NYTimes. So I should get a discount there.

These newspapers need to come up with some sort of consortium, so that I can subscribe there and have access to several news sites. Since that would require a login, they should be able to work out how to divvy up the subscription based on what I actually read. The way they are currently handling it doesn't work very well.


Fundamentalism - the anti-American, anti-Christian branch of American Christianity

This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Percy, posted 02-21-2021 12:53 PM Percy has acknowledged this reply

Replies to this message:
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PaulK
Member
Posts: 16861
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 4.0


Message 13 of 58 (884476)
02-21-2021 2:00 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by nwr
02-21-2021 1:41 PM


Apple News+ may be the sort of thing you want. Maybe not exactly, but it’s in the ballpark.

But I will note that the preference for subscriptions argues against links being a major benefit to newspapers. To maintain the value of subscriptions necessarily means limiting the amount of free content which will result in some links being blocked for some people. The newspapers generally don’t want to rely on visitors arriving via links.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by nwr, posted 02-21-2021 1:41 PM nwr has acknowledged this reply

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by Percy, posted 02-22-2021 11:04 AM PaulK has responded

  
LamarkNewAge
Member
Posts: 1840
Joined: 12-22-2015


Message 14 of 58 (884486)
02-21-2021 9:36 PM


Why not ban pop up blockers?
That would make more sense.

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by Percy, posted 02-22-2021 10:41 AM LamarkNewAge has not yet responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 20113
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.2


Message 15 of 58 (884488)
02-22-2021 10:41 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by LamarkNewAge
02-21-2021 9:36 PM


Re: Why not ban pop up blockers?
Banning pop-ups would make even more sense.

AbE: HTML used to have a <blink> tag, but it quickly became deprecated and unsupported in most browsers because it was so annoying. I had to add blink capability back in, like this:

<p class=dblink>test</p>

Which produces this:

--Percy

Edited by Percy, : AbE.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by LamarkNewAge, posted 02-21-2021 9:36 PM LamarkNewAge has not yet responded

  
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