In Australia, Google is getting a bit of a taste of its own medicine, after spending much of this year running amok flagging, deplatforming, or removing content as misinformation. Now, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is accusing Google of doing just that – disseminating misinformation.
Google’s battles in various parts of the world whose markets it holds in a firm, some say effectively monopolistic grasp with its search, advertising, news and other content, are fairly profiled by now.
In the US, it’s mostly about political influence; in Europe, the giant’s problems have to do with regulatory issues; and in Australia, the dispute always seems to circle back to money, as Australian publishing corporations, with the backing of their country’s authorities, want a slice of Google’s super lucrative, advertising-generated pie.
However, Google doesn’t want to give that up – and so recently, in what appears to be a “hearts and minds” campaign, the company started showing Australian Google Search users a pop-up that is apparently reminiscent of a warning message, which clicks through to an “open letter” addressed to these users.
The pop-up warns that that “the way Aussies use Google is at risk” as well as that their “search experience” on both Google and YouTube would deteriorate if the ACCC’s proposed News Media Bargaining Code, mandating ad revenue sharing with Australian publishers, comes into effect.
The gist of Google’s letter is a warning that some free services now available to Australians might be put at risk – i.e., require subscription going forward.
Google also makes what will appear to many as an astonishingly hypocritical warning, namely, of the danger of Google search users’ data “being handed over to big news businesses.” (As opposed to – third-parties of all kinds, including advertisers and law enforcement, as Google is now reported to be doing?)
But ACCC chairman Rod Sims branded the open letter as a document that contains misinformation about how the proposed legislation would be implemented.
Sims denied that Google would be required to either charge users for access to Search and YouTube, or share “any additional” data with Australian publishers.
Clearly, all they want is for Google to share some of the money generated through its multi-million ad business in the country.