The Australian government has thrown Google under the bus after the search engine behemoth admitting that it has blocked local Australian sites from its homepage. Many news outlets believe it's a show of "extraordinary power."
Earlier this week, Google ran an "experiment" to measure the "impacts of news business and Google Search on each other." It will reach about 1% of users in Australia and end by early February. As the BBC reported, the government has been fighting over the tech giant's plans and attempting to impose a code on Google and Facebook that would force them to pay a fair price for displaying local Aussie content.
"The digital giants should focus on paying for original content, not blocking it. That's my message to those digital giants," Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the BBC.
Although Google did admit that the company has been inducting the new experiment, the tech giant vehemently refuses to answer questions about removing Aussie sites from search results. Even worse, affected users were never informed of the change at all, although they may still work around it by browsing in incognito mode in Google Chrome.
Google denied providing a detailed list of the news outlets affected. Still, reports include the ABC, the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, the ABC, the Guardian, and the Australian Financial Review in a laundry-list of affected media outlets.
"At the same time, Google are now demonstrating how easily they can make Australian news providers who fall out of their favour effectively disappear from the internet - a chilling illustration of their extraordinary market power," Nina, the publisher of the Australian Financial Review, the Age, and the Sydney Morning Herald, says in a statement.
Unfortunately, there are no more updates if Google only runs the experiment solely after the Australian government implemented the news media bargaining code, or if there are any more trials planned, or if Google did inform the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission of its plan.
What Can Users Do?
If users still want Australian websites to reveal on their homepage, they may have to browse from private browsers. The best options to have are the incognito mode in either Google Chrome, Safari, or Mozilla Firefox, although other browsers also work just fine.
Another go-to option is to browse the internet using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). It prevents unauthorized people from interfering with the traffic and letting users browse from anywhere in the world, and it's not illegal. There are many options to have, from the free one to the premium one.
Plus, the experiment will only affect 1% of Australian users, and it's only come to effect until early February 2021.