back to article Australia to force Google and Facebook to pay for news and reveal algorithm changes before they whack web traffic

Australian regulators have proposed to compel web giants to divulge forthcoming changes to the algorithms used to present content to users, and to submit to binding arbitration when publishers seek payment for their content. The draft code, released today, suggests imposing the following "minimum requirements" on Facebook and …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most news sources in Oz are Murdoch owned

    If the aggregators stop showing their muck, then all the better.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good luck. No one is going to pay for news.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      too right

      Like anyone could make money printing "the news" in a big paper pamphlet and selling it! I think I'd have noticed if that was going on.

      1. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

        Re: too right

        The problem is, even when they do print, they can't seem to make money.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ask The New York Times about that.

  3. phogan

    There is probably going to a big change in Google's algorithm, one that stops the use of Australian news.

  4. P. Lee Silver badge

    If you don’t want your site indexed

    Robots.txt

    I see nothing useful to Australian media coming from this.

    1. Phones Sheridan

      Re: If you don’t want your site indexed

      Robots.txt is about as useful as a sign that says “Beware of the leopard”

      1. UCAP
        Happy

        Re: If you don’t want your site indexed

        But that sign can be very useful if there really is a leopard

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Beware of the leopard sign

        Why would that make any difference to people in Oz? They have plenty of far more deadly wildlife right in their own back yard.

        Now if it said 'Keep Out! King Brown inside'

        They would take note and stay well away.

    2. stiine Silver badge

      Re: If you don’t want your site indexed

      But if they use robots.txt, they won't get any traffic... oh wait.

  5. UCAP

    Didn't one of the European countries (Spain?) try to force Google to pay for news, with the result that Google simply pulled out of the country lock,stock and barrel?

    1. The First Dave Silver badge

      Which was probably a good thing for them?

  6. Phones Sheridan

    Not enough. We need Google’s whole search algorithm published. Something screwy is going on when every website publisher worldwide believes that their SEO practices has got them onto the first page of google.

    1. Julz Silver badge

      It's a quantum algorithm and would collapse if you took a peek.

  7. DS999

    If you require them to tell you exactly what algorithm they use

    And give you advance notice, everyone - from legitimate news sites to troll farms / fake news / conspiracy sites - will know how to game the system. How is that going to help anyone?

    The reason they change their algorithm is because people have figured out how to game the system, so they have to work around it to eliminate that gaming. Sometimes it hurts legitimate sites, that's too bad but I don't see how it could be avoided.

    The original PageRank was genius, at first it did a great job of showing the most useful links. The problem was it was incredibly easy to game and falsely inflate the ranking of your site, and the war has been fought between search engines and SEOs ever since.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: If you require them to tell you exactly what algorithm they use

      I understand your point, but if you are a lynchpin of the Internet economy, and search engines are vital, then you maybe shouldn't be allowed to be completely opaque about how you rank things.

      To see that search engines are completely necessary, not using one is the equivalent in the real world of not having signs on any shops anywhere. So if you wanted to find a particular shop, you would have to knock on every door to find out if it's a shop, and then which shop it is. Once you know where the shop is you can find it again, but finding a new shop is essentially impossible.

      Thus search engines are a fundamental, and entirely necessary, part of the digital economy. As such, high levels of regulation should be applied.

      1. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

        Re: If you require them to tell you exactly what algorithm they use

        I don't use search engines to find new content, especially Google's, as I spent too much time digging further down to find useful sources. I use links from useful sites or commentors on those sites. That works.

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: If you require them to tell you exactly what algorithm they use

          That's the equivalent of a friend telling you "there's a good baker, red door, 2nd on the right past the lamp post".

          That's fine if you are looking for a baker, and you happen to know that your friend knows a baker (or your friend knows that you are looking for one). It's not much use when you have a new requirement, and don't know any friends who've ever had any dealings in that area.

          I've just been going through that with some plumbing requirements. Regular plumbing stuff, no problem - I just pop down to my regular plumbers merchants. But with the stuff I've been looking for, it's a case of "computer says no !" and as far as they're concerned it doesn't exist.

          I've relied on search engines to track down manufacturers' sites around the world, and then track down local suppliers. Without search engines, I'd have been reliant on rather limited data sources - e.g. local suppliers who don't know about the stuff I want.

      2. _andrew

        Re: If you require them to tell you exactly what algorithm they use

        The corollary of that argument is that similar regulation would be required for all web sites, to ensure that their "internet shop-front signage" was not lying. So trade-practices laws should apply to "SEO", and with any luck put the practice (mostly) out of business.

        Seems much more likely that what would really happen is that the game would be over and we'd be back to search results as useful as those of AltaVista.

        Be careful what you wish for...

  8. phogan

    Google apparently announced on their blog last month they'll pay some publishers for high quality content In Australia, Germany, and Brazil through a new service to launch on Google News and Discover.

    1. Nifty Bronze badge

      "they'll pay some publishers for high quality content In Australia"

      So no money will be changing hands then?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    yeah, sure, good joke.

    So google stops indexing Australian news web sites, and then they go out of business as no one ever gets sent to them, as they become invisible to the web in general....

    1. trashsilo
      Angel

      Hat tip

      Not so many 'then they go out of business' and more 'they have gone out of business' at the local level.

      My hats off to :

      "The newspaper in a town of this size and calibre is such a pivotal communication engine,"

      Michael Waite for Naracoorte's The News

      https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-03/from-america-to-establishing-a-new-naracoorte-newspaper/12197882

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. The Central Scrutinizer

    Double edged sword. How will this skew search results here in Australia?

    And the thought of anyone, even Google, paying Murdoch and his cronies for search results makes me want to puke.

  12. Falmari

    traffic it sends to publishers

    "the traffic it sends to publishers is sufficiently valuable"

    Is it really sending traffic?

    We use search to find a site or sites most relevant to what we need. We search and google ranks them in relation to our search criteria. Then normally we go to the ones at the top. So the sites lower down the ranking do not get visited. A different search and the ranking can change

    So it is also turning traffic away from sites.

    The way I see it is google is not sending you to a site it is because the content on the site is most relevant (so google says) to what you are looking for that sends you there. Google just provides the info for you to make a decision on what site/sites fits your need.

  13. Sub 20 Pilot

    Useless search engines from Google and the like.

    I know that this is not a mainstream case and slightly off-topic but I have found the big search engines to be useless unless you want to buy something from the larger multinationals.

    It may have improved by now but a few years ago if I put something like ''Ulnar fracture'' into a search box the first page would be filled with things like ''get your next ulnar fracture from amazon'' or similar. Fucking useless for anything except the promotion of amazon..

    Same if I wanted to find details on something just as specific related to my work. I may be looking for Radon Gas barriers but the top listings would be companies selling gas and electricity and wanting you to switch providers. Keywords or whatever may serve a purpose but not in most cases where ''gas'' doesn't automatically mean you want to change your gas provider.

    Very similar is the propensity for any English search term to throw up loads of US sites regardless of what you put in as a search term or tried to restrict to UK English. If the searches are no good then no point trying to use them.

    I use DDG when I have to or try to find details by other means but for me the search engine has been nothing but a waste of time and maybe things like this will change them for the better. ( It's Friday so I am allowed a bit of optimism...)

    1. hoola Bronze badge

      Re: Useless search engines from Google and the like.

      This is partly the fault of Google and a lot to do with all the bots that make money as click bait to fill the top half of any results that are not adverts.

      I find it totally infuriating that you do a search and as you say, it is filled with adverts that are of no interest or relevance to the search.

      That Amazon also appears to fill all the adverts or top results also goes to show how broken the system is.

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