Google makes billions from news sites in 2018, study finds

This file illustration picture shows the US multinational technology and Internet-related services company Google logo displayed on a tablet in Paris on February 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 11 June 2019
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Google makes billions from news sites in 2018, study finds

  • Many media companies and artists backed the EU move aimed at getting revenue from web platforms

WASHINGTON: Google took in some $4.7 billion in revenue in 2018 from “crawling and scraping” news websites without paying publishers, according to an industry-sponsored study released Monday which was disputed by the tech giant and media analysts.
The study by the News Media Alliance underscores industry arguments about Google and other online giants harming traditional news organizations by dominating the Internet news ecosystem and ad revenues generated through it.
According to the study, Google has increasingly monetized news content as it works to keep consumers in its ecosystem, and that news searches helps the Internet giant gather data from its users to help tailor its other products.
The report is expected to be presented this week to a congressional hearing on antitrust abuses by Big Tech firms and to support legislation that would allow news organizations exemptions from antitrust to negotiate digital revenues.
Google disputed the findings of the study, as did some media analysts.
“These back of the envelope calculations are inaccurate as a number of experts are pointing out,” a Google spokesperson said.
“The overwhelming number of news queries do not show ads. The study ignores the value Google provides. Every month Google News and Google Search drive over 10 billion clicks to publishers’ websites, which drive subscriptions and significant ad revenue.”
Other analysts also voiced skepticism about the methods and conclusions of the study by the media group previously known as the Newspaper Association of America.
Jeff Jarvis, a City University of New York journalism professor, called the study flawed, in part because it relies on “snippets” in search results.
“Snippets in search are NOT content,” Jarvis said on Twitter. “They are links TO the publishers. Google does not monetize Google News. When it makes money on news it’s by serving ads ON publishers’ sites.”
Temple University professor Aron Pilhofer said the study fails to consider how Google drives users to news websites where publishers can generate revenue.
“Even if you accept the methodology (which I do not), I think it’s fair to also account for all the traffic Google is pushing to publisher sites, wouldn’t it? This is just silly,” Pilhofer tweeted.
The study comes months after the European Union adopted a hotly contested copyright law that could require Google and other online giants to pay publishers for news content in search results.
Many media companies and artists backed the EU move aimed at getting revenue from web platforms. But the law was strongly opposed by Internet freedom activists and by Silicon Valley on concerns it could chill the sharing of information.


Egypt reported to have 4-6m fake news pages

An Egyptian carries a load of newspapers in Cairo, Egypt, in this file photo taken on Dec. 1, 2014. (AP)
Updated 16 June 2019
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Egypt reported to have 4-6m fake news pages

  • ‘The fake accounts ... are usually not owned by Egyptians, but by foreigners’

CAIRO: Egypt is reported to have 4 to 6 million fake news pages on social media accounts, according to Ali Hosni, undersecretary at of the General Directorate of Information and Relations at the Egyptian Interior Ministry.
The fake accounts, made to spread false information, are usually not owned by Egyptians, but by foreigners, he added.
Egypt has faced a flood of false rumors on an almost weekly basis, with claims such as that a newly appointed minister was in fact dead, or that of a girl kidnapped in the Beheira, who turned out to have runaway to avoid taking her exams.
According to a recent global survey, 86 percent of internet users have admitted that they have fallen for fake news online. The survey also showed that Egyptians were the most gullible in terms of fake news.

Prohibitory step
The government passed a law prohibiting fake news in an attempt to control the problem. The law, passed in July 2018, states that social media accounts with over 5,000 followers will be treated as media outlets, and their owners could be subjected to fines or prison for spreading fake news.
Responses to the law were skeptical, as people wondered what defined fake news, while others found the law to be vague. With the global survey’s results, it can be presumed that the 2018 fake news law did not have too much of an impact.
There have been multiple reports of social media accounts masquerading as officials and in Egypt turning out to be fake. One, the page for Education Minister Mahmoud Abo Nasr, had 80,000 Facebook followers on it — his genuine official page had only 55,000 followers.