Google Says It Will Pay Publishers For News Content

In this file photo taken on January 22, 2019 a technician passes by a logo of US internet search giant Google during the opening day of a new Berlin office of Google in Berlin. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP
In this file photo taken on January 22, 2019 a technician passes by a logo of US internet search giant Google during the opening day of a new Berlin office of Google in Berlin. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

 

Google will pay partnered media publishers in three countries and offer some users free access to paywalled news sites, the tech giant said Thursday.

The announcement comes after legal battles in France and Australia over Google’s refusal to pay news organizations for content.

In a blog post, the firm said it would launch “a licensing program to pay publishers for high-quality content for a new news experience” due to launch later this year.

Brad Bender, Google’s vice-president of product management, said they had been in discussions with partnered publishers — including the Spiegel Group in Germany and Brazil’s Diarios Associados — for several months, “with more to come.”

“Google will also offer to pay for free access for users to read paywalled articles on a publisher’s site,” the statement said, without offering any further details.

Australian publishers Schwartz Media, The Conversation and Solstice Media are also among the partners, according to public broadcaster ABC.

Bender said the program will help publishers “monetize their content through an enhanced storytelling experience.”

READ ALSO: UN Urges ‘Moratorium’ On Facial Recognition Tech Use In Protests

He added it would build on the 2018 Google News Initiative, a $300 million project that aimed to tackle disinformation online and help news sites grow financially.

It comes after growing calls for internet tech titans, notably Google, to pay for content.

A number of European and global publications — including AFP — have called on the European Union to adopt laws requiring internet companies to pay for the material they produce.

In April, France’s competition regulator said the firm must start paying media groups for displaying their content, ordering it to begin negotiations after refusing for months to comply with Europe’s new digital copyright law.

And earlier this month, Google rejected demands from Australian news publishers that it pay hundreds of millions of dollars per year in compensation to local news media under a government-imposed revenue sharing deal.

AFP

Google Says It Will Pay Publishers For News

 In this file photo taken on January 22, 2019 a technician passes by a logo of US internet search giant Google during the opening day of a new Berlin office of Google in Berlin. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP
In this file photo taken on January 22, 2019 a technician passes by a logo of US internet search giant Google during the opening day of a new Berlin office of Google in Berlin. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

 

Google will pay partnered media publishers in three countries and offer some users free access to paywalled news sites, the tech giant said Thursday.

The announcement comes after legal battles in France and Australia over Google’s refusal to pay news organizations for content.

In a blog post the firm said they would launch “a licensing program to pay publishers for high-quality content for a new news experience” due to launch later this year.

Brad Bender, Google’s vice-president of product management, said they had been in discussions with partnered publishers — including the Spiegel Group in Germany, Schwartz media in Australia and Brazil’s Diarios Associados — for several months, “with more to come.”

“Google will also offer to pay for free access for users to read paywalled articles on a publisher’s site,” the statement said, without offering any further details.

Bender said the program will help publishers “monetize their content through an enhanced storytelling experience.”

He added it would build on the 2018 Google News Initiative, a $300 million project that aimed to tackle disinformation online and help news sites grow financially.

It comes after growing calls for internet tech titans, notably Google, to pay for content.

A number of European and global publications — including AFP — have called on the European Union to adopt laws requiring internet companies to pay for the material they produce.

In April, France’s competition regulator said the firm must start paying media groups for displaying their content, ordering it to begin negotiations after refusing for months to comply with Europe’s new digital copyright law.

And earlier this month, Google rejected an Australian ruling that it pay hundreds of millions of dollars per year in compensation to local news media under a government-imposed revenue-sharing deal.

 

AFP

Google Now Auto-Deleting Data For New Users In Bid To Tighten Privacy Settings

In this file photo taken on October 4, 2017 Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google Inc., speaks about Google’s improvements in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning at a product launch event, October 4, 2017 at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, California. Elijah Nouvelage / AFP

 

Google has begun auto-deleting new users’ search data and location history on a rolling 18-month basis, CEO Sundar Pichai announced, as the tech giant moves to tighten privacy settings.

The tweak was introduced Wednesday and is the latest attempt by a big online firm to boost public trust after hefty fines were levied against Facebook and Google for privacy violations in recent years.

“We believe that products should keep your information for only as long as it’s useful and helpful to you,” Pichai said in a blog post, adding that the changes were designed to “keep less data by default.”

When creating a new Google account, “your activity data will be automatically and continuously deleted after 18 months, rather than kept until you choose to delete it,” he explained.

Current users can already opt in to auto-delete their data every three or 18 months — a setting that has not changed, although existing users will be reminded of the option to do so.

Smartphone location technology has been in the spotlight as governments study or implement app-based initiatives to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, despite concerns over privacy and civil liberties.

Pinchai, also head of Google’s parent company Alphabet, asserted that “privacy is at the heart of everything we do” in his blog post.

He detailed other changes including easier access to privacy settings within apps and to the more secure “incognito” mode.

New users of Google’s subsidiary YouTube will also have their search data auto-deleted after 36 months, Pinchai said.

 

AFP

Google Adds Fact-Checking To Images In Bid To Combat Fake News

Google is one of the largest tech companies in the world. Photo: LOIC VENANCE / AFP

 

Google said Monday it was adding fact-check labels to images as part of its efforts to stem visually misleading information.

The new labels will be attached to the underlying web pages of photos and videos which appear in a Google search, the tech giant said.

Google showed how the fact-check system works with an illustration of a widely circulated set of images which showed — falsely —  sharks were swimming in the streets of Houston after a 2017 hurricane.

“Photos and videos are an incredible way to help people understand what’s going on in the world. But the power of visual media has its pitfalls — especially when there are questions surrounding the origin, authenticity or context of an image,” said Google product manager Harris Cohen.

“Starting today, we are surfacing fact check information in Google Images globally to help people navigate these issues and make more informed judgments about what they see on the web.”

The new labels will be based on the ClaimReview database established by independent fact-checkers.

“Now, when you search on Google Images, you may see a ‘Fact Check’ label under the thumbnail image results,” Cohen said.

“When you tap one of these results to view the image in a larger format, you’ll see a summary of the fact check that appears on the underlying web page. These labels may appear both for fact check articles about specific images and for fact check articles that include an image in the story.”

Google said the new labels won’t affect search rankings: “Our systems are designed to surface the most relevant, reliable information available, including from sources that provide fact checks,” Cohen said.

 

AFP

Google Loses $56mn Appeal In France

(FILES) This file photo taken on April 29, 2018 shows the Google logo displayed on a screen and reflected on a tablet in Paris.  Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

 

France’s highest administrative authority on Friday dismissed a challenge by Google against a fine of 50 million euros ($56 million) for failing to provide adequate information on its data consent policies.

The fine was imposed in 2019 by France’s data watchdog, the CNIL.

It found at the time that Google made it too difficult for users to understand and manage preferences on how their personal information is used, in particular with regards to targeted advertising.

Its ruling applied principles enshrined in the EU’s strict new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Google then appealed.

But on Friday, the Council of State, a French government body that is also the court of last resort for matters of administrative justice, confirmed the CNIL ruling.

It agreed the information that Google provided to users “does not meet the requirements of clarity and accessibility required by the GDPR” even when the nature and volume of data collected was “particularly intrusive.”

The council said the CNIL’s record fine was not disproportionate “given the particular seriousness of the breaches committed, their continuous nature and duration, the ceilings provided for by the GDPR (up to four percent of turnover) and Google’s financial situation.”

In a statement sent to AFP, the American giant said it would “now examine the changes we need to make”.

The matter was brought to the CNIL by two advocacy groups shortly after the landmark GDPR directive came into effect.

One was filed on behalf of some 10,000 signatories by France’s Quadrature du Net group, and the other by None Of Your Business, created by the Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems.

Schrems had accused Google of securing “forced consent” via its Android mobile operating software through the use of pop-up boxes online or on its apps which imply that its services will not be available unless the conditions of use are accepted.

The CNIL noted in its ruling that details on how long a person’s data can be kept and what it is used for were spread over several different web pages.

Modifying a user’s data preferences required clicking through a variety of pages such as “More Options”, and often the choices to accept Google’s terms were pre-checked by default.

It was not the first time the regulator had taken Google to task.

In 2014 it fined the company 150,000 euros — the maximum possible at the time — for failing to comply with privacy guidelines.

And in 2016 it imposed a 100,000-euro penalty over non-compliance with the EU’s “right to be forgotten” rule which allows people to request having references to them removed from search results.

Google, Facebook Extend Work-From-Home Plans Till 2021

This file illustration taken on October 1, 2019 shows the logos of mobile apps Facebook and Google displayed on a tablet in Lille, France.  DENIS CHARLET / AFP
This file illustration taken on October 1, 2019 shows the logos of mobile apps Facebook and Google displayed on a tablet in Lille, France. DENIS CHARLET / AFP

 

Google and Facebook have told most employees to keep working from home for the rest of the year as part of a response by the tech giants to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Chief executive Sundar Pichai told Google staff at an all-hands meeting that its remote work policy will be extended until 2021, the Silicon Valley giant confirmed Friday.

Any return to offices was expected to be incremental and staggered, according to the company.

The news came along with US media reports that Facebook is also letting workers tend to their jobs remotely for the rest of this year.

Google employees who need to return to offices will be able to do that in the next month or two, with added safety measures in place due to coronavirus concerns, but most of the staff will continue working from home.

Facebook’s updated plan is to re-open offices in early July, but let people work from home if they prefer until 2021, according to reports.

 

AFP

COVID-19: Google Makes Its Video Meeting Service Free To All

 

Google on Tuesday made its business videoconferencing service free to all users, ramping up competition for Zoom as people flock online to stay connected during the pandemic.

Google Meet had previously been reserved for subscribers to the premium G Suite software tools for businesses.

Meet will be available “to all users around the world, to enable people all walks of life to communicate collaborate and really stay in touch more effectively through the pandemic,” G Suite vice president Javier Soltaro told AFP.

Google touted security and reliability features of Meet, and its foundation in the California-based internet giant’s computing cloud.

Use of video calls and conferencing has rocketed as people work, learn, and socialize remotely while staying home to avoid the coronavirus.

Many people have turned to Zoom, which has scrambled to stem security problems such as data hacking and harassment by individuals who crash sessions in what is referred to as “Zoombombing.”

Google said in a blog post that it has “invested years in making Meet a secure and reliable video conferencing solution that’s trusted by schools, governments and enterprises around the world.”

People will need use or create free Google accounts to take part in meetings, which will have a 60-minute time cap that will be enforced starting the end of September, according to the company.

Google said free access will roll out gradually in coming weeks.

Some six million businesses and organizations from hospitals and banks to manufacturing facilities and warehouses already using G Suite already have access to Meet video conferencing, according to Google.

The move comes days after Facebook unveiled a new video chat service with virtual “rooms” where people can pop in to visit friends.

Through the Facebook Messenger application, users will be able to start video call sessions that as many as 50 friends can join and linger in as long as they wish, even if they don’t have Facebook accounts.

AFP

Popular Google Doodle Games Return To Keep People Entertained During Lockdown

Google is bringing back its most popular Doodle games to keep people entertained through coronavirus lockdowns.

Over the years, Google has featured an impressive number of games and minigames on its homepage, all of which have been carefully preserved and archived on the Google Doodle Blog.

Starting April 27 and running for two weeks, Google is launching a new series of ten Doodles, each one a callback to one of the company’s popular games.

As COVID-19 continues to impact communities around the world, people and families everywhere are spending more time at home. In light of this, we’re launching a throwback Doodle series looking back at some of our popular interactive Google Doodle games!

It has already highlighted its “Coding for Carrots” game, which first arrived in 2017 and was launched to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Logo, the programming language created for children. It allows children to learn the basics of coding using the simple game, which sees them control a rabbit as it goes around hunting for food.

The latest game comes from 2017 too and was created as part of the ICC Championships Trophy. It’s a cricket game in two senses: you’re playing cricket, but you also play as a cricket, taking part in an animal-themed championship.

New updates will arrive each day throughout the period. Google hasn’t revealed what they are but is teasing them in a special part of its webpage.

The games can be found by simply heading to Google’s homepage, or searching “popular google doodle games” from the browser.

Google Launches ‘Journalism Relief Fund’ Following Facebook

Photo: LOIC VENANCE / AFP

 

Google said Wednesday it will launch an emergency fund to help local news outlets struggling to maintain operations in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The internet giant gave no specific figure for its fund, but said it would offer grants ranging from the “low thousands of dollars” for the smallest operations to “low tens of thousands for larger newsrooms.”

The move comes with the media sector facing deep cutbacks resulting from the global consumer lockdown, an intense economic slump and retrenchment in advertising revenues that many news outlets depend on.

“Local news is a vital resource for keeping people and communities connected in the best of times,” Google News vice president Richard Gingras said in a statement.

“Today, it plays an even greater function in reporting on local lockdowns or shelter at home orders, school and park closures, and data about how COVID-19 is affecting daily life.”

Gingras said the fund will open to outlets “producing original news for local communities during this time of crisis,” with applications due by April 29.

“At the end of the process, we’ll announce who has received funding and how publishers are spending the money,” he said.

“We believe it is important to do what we can to alleviate the financial pressures on newsrooms, and will continue to look at other ways to help with more to announce soon.”

READ ALSO: 99-Year-Old World War II Veteran Beats COVID-19 In Brazil

The New York Times has estimated that news outlets have cut 28,000 jobs as a result of the health crisis and subsequent economic impact.

Other outlets have furloughed journalists or announced pay cuts.

Facebook on March 30 said it was donating $100 million to support news organizations globally hurting from the coronavirus pandemic. This includes $25 million in grants and ramped up ad spending by the social media giant.

In recent months Facebook and Google have stepped up efforts to help news organizations, following criticism that their dominance of online advertising has made it difficult for media to profit from digital operations.

AFP

Google And Apple Team Up To Build COVID-19 Mobile App

A combination of both Google and Apple logos created on April 10, 2020.
A combination of both Google and Apple logos created on April 10, 2020.

 

Google and Apple unveiled a joint initiative Friday to use smartphones to trace coronavirus contacts to battle the pandemic.

The move brings together the largest mobile operating systems in an effort to use smartphone technology to track and potentially contain the global COVID-19 outbreak.

Smartphones powered by Apple software and Google-backed Android operating system would be able to exchange information with a joint “opt in system.”

The tech giants will collaborate on a “contact tracing” system which can identify people in contact with an infected person. and alert users.

“All of us at Apple and Google believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems,” the companies said in a joint statement.

The first step will be release next month of software interface and operating system-level technology to let iPhones and Android-powered phones share information through applications provided by public health authorities, according to the companies.

The move comes with governments around the world studying or implementing measures to use smartphone location technology to identify people with the virus and keep them from infecting others, even as the efforts raise privacy and civil liberties concerns.

Apple and Google said they will work together in the coming months to use standard Bluetooth capabilities relied on by wireless devices such as earbuds to be used to let handsets exchange information.

Apple and Google contended that “privacy, transparency, and consent” were top priorities in the joint initiative.

“All of us at Apple and Google believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems,” the longtime rivals said in the release.

“Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life.”

 

AFP

Today’s Google Doodle Thanks Public Health Workers

 Google is saying thank you with a series of Google Doodles over the next two weeks.
Google is saying thank you with a series of Google Doodles over the next two weeks. Image/Google.com

 

Google is saying thank you to all coronavirus helpers with a series of Google Doodles over the next two weeks.

To honor public health workers and researchers in the scientific community for their tireless work on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, Google’s landing page looks a bit different today. If you visit Google.com, instead of the usual search engine fare, you’ll see Google’s logo has been transformed into one with emergency services workers when the day before, it used to be an animation of a heart floating to a researcher to represent our collective gratitude during this global crisis.

To recognize the global surge in “searches for how to thank healthcare workers,” Google released a “Thank You” video aimed at the medical professionals “sacrificing so much to save so many.” The video ends on the important note of how we can “help save lives by staying home” and a link to the google.com/covid19 information and resources site.

“Over the next two weeks, our Doodles will honor other essential frontline workers, including healthcare workers, first responders, and the many people keeping services like sanitation, food service, public transit, schools, and more up and running. Thank you to all the people who are working to save lives and keep communities safe during this pandemic.” the tech company says.

During this time of global crisis, it is crucial that we heed information from the most accurate sources and curb the spread of misinformation about the virus.

Google Doodles: Thank you coronavirus helpers

  • April 6: Public health workers and to researchers in the scientific community

  • April 7: Doctors, nurses, and medical workers

  • April 8: Emergency services workers

Google Earmarks $6.5m To Tackle Fake News On COVID-19

 

Google on Thursday said it is pumping $6.5 million into fact-checkers and nonprofits as it ramps up its the battle against coronavirus misinformation.

Fact-checking organisations, which often operate on relatively small budgets, are seeing a surge in demand for their work as mistaken or maliciously false information about the pandemic spreads, according to Alexios Mantzarlis of the Google News Lab.

“Uncertainty and fear make us all more susceptible to inaccurate information, so we’re supporting fact-checkers as they address heightened demand for their work,” Mantzarlis said.

A Poynter Institute report last year on the state of fact-checking indicated that more than a fifth of fact-checking organizations operated with annual budgets of less than $20,000.

“We are supporting fact-checking projects around the world with a concentration on parts hardest hit by the pandemic,” Mantzarlis told AFP.

“This can be a noticeable infusion of additional support at a time of stress.”

Google is also looking to use its products and “ecosystem” to bolster the battle against COVID-19 misinformation.

The Google News Initiative is increasing its support for nonprofit First Draft, which provides a resource hub, training and crisis simulations for journalists covering news during times of crisis, according to Mantzarlis.

Google is also supporting the creation of a public health resource database for reporters.

“We also want to do more to surface fact-checks that address potentially harmful health misinformation more prominently to our users,” Mantzarlis said.

“We’re experimenting with how to best include a dedicated fact-check section in the COVID-19 Google News experience.”

Google is conducting a test in India and Africa to explore how to use trends in what people are asking or searching for online to let fact-checkers know where a lack of reliable answers may invite misinformation.