Google just made an appeal to the Australian public. The ACCC has responded in kind. What does this mean for Australian users of Google?
This week, Google made an appeal to the Australian public that its search experience may be impaired as a result of an action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The ACCC responded in kind to say that if Google’s services are made worse, it will be out of Google’s choosing.
What does this all mean?
It’s a complex topic with unclear impact on the Australian public. But there are some things we can do about it.
To understand what’s happening, try looking up a news topic on Google, like “coronavirus”. You’ll likely see some news snippets. If you click on these via mobile, you’ll also get taken to an AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) version of the page.
Why does this matter? Because of how the news is displayed. Google’s algorithms decide which snippets to show you, and that determines which news providers will receive ad money from your view. When you click on a snippet via mobile, you also pass your data onto Google, rather than the news source.
ACCC is concerned with the power imbalance between Google and Australian news companies. News companies in Australia have little bargaining power when negotiating with Google about how their news gets shown.
Australia is experiencing a local news extinction event. Local newsrooms have been shutting down, accelerated by the impact of Covid-19. Loss of public interest journalism threatens a functioning democracy. Imagine trying to keep your local government accountable when there is no local news reporting — as is now the case in one-third of local councils across Australia.
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