Is Murdoch's Move Against Google Really About Twitter And Facebook?

from the no,-not-even-close dept

I’m a big believer in the idea that “earned media” or “earned links” are increasingly important online. That’s the idea that growing numbers of people are relying on news links that are being passed to them via friends on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. It’s about recognizing that more and more often news stories “find people” rather than the other way around. That is, people are increasingly getting links from friends, acquaintances and colleagues, rather than going searching for the news. And those “earned” links or “passed links” are quite valuable because friends are more likely to trust and pay attention to what is personally sent to them, rather than what’s just on the front page of a news site.

However, even given all of that, I’m not sure I buy Mark Cuban’s explanation for Rupert Murdoch and his plan to stop Google from indexing his sites. Cuban says that it’s all about this recognition that such earned links are becoming so important these days, and Murdoch realizes that links from Twitter and Facebook are growing in value, whereas links from Google have little value. To be honest, I’d be surprised if Murdoch had thought through it that carefully, but more to the point, I’m not sure I believe the full premise. Yes, those links are valuable, but they need to start somewhere, and one of the ways they start is from news junkies using aggregators like Google News to find the news and start passing them around. Blocking that starting process makes little sense. On top of that, even when I’m passed a link, I’ll often use Google News or other sites to dig deeper. Taking News Corp. sites out of the picture doesn’t help at all. And, finally, while I keep hearing about sites getting so much more traffic from such passed links these days, I can say with authority that on Techdirt, they’re still a tiny fraction of the traffic we get from Google.

So, yes, directly passed links from friends or colleagues are valuable and important, but it’s a part of a wider ecosystem of news sharing that Google News and other aggregators are most certainly a large part of. Saying that blocking Google News makes sense because of things like Twitter and Facebook ignores how Google News plays into those links even being on Twitter and Facebook.

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Comments on “Is Murdoch's Move Against Google Really About Twitter And Facebook?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: au contraire

Re: Re: au contraire
by Esahc
It’s comments like that, which make me ashamed to be “conservative”.

I’m hoping you meant to say comments like that it made you ashamed to call yourself a “conservative”, at least in public. If so, I agree. The right wing lunatic fringe has taken the word hostage in the name of their jihad against everything Obama. And lately that seems to be everything period. Getting really tiresome.

As for Google blipping all of Murdoch’s sites, they’re on the other side of the political aisle so I don’t think he’ll have to ask them twice and I don’t think they’ll lose any sleep or revenues over it.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 au contraire

no, it’s just that 90+% of all people on both sides are fanatical idiots who will paint anything done by the other arbitrary ‘side’ as wrong and their own side as right and totally hard done by. you get this anywhere with a representative democracy, especially in places with a ‘two party system’… but the USA seems to be particularly bad. or at least, we hear about it most.

and that’s before i get into the pet rant of the massive corruption of the terms ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ that have resulted…the two are NOT OPPOSITES *headdesk* rar!

so, yeah, no patents or copyrights to the best of my knowledge, just massive stupidity on all sides 🙂

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 au contraire

“Why can a Republican not use the liberal tactics?”

The the substance of the attacks and manner of attacks prevent Republicans from doing so.

First, Democrats attacked Bush on actual issues and facts (and largely have been proven right as information dribbled out). GOP is literally making stuff up to scare the crap out of people so they won’t be smashed into oblivion in 10 years when people realize that national single payer health care is a very good thing. Much like Medicare which Republicans said would end our medical system as we know it. Funny we still have one and Medicare is pretty dang popular. Why should we listen to them now with the same old rants let alone fabrications?

Secondly, google “”
or see this link:

These are the tactics the GOP uses, not actual arguments based on facts. There was an episode of Bill Maher’s show recently that had fmr Sen. Bill Frist (a doctor) on talking about the H1N1 vaccine. It was a very telling scene when Frist says, “For once you’re the crazy person and I’ve got facts on my side” because Maher has questions about whether *any* vaccine is a good idea. The implication being that the GOP is usually spouting craziness in the face of facts.

But please provide some evidence for your point of view…that you seem to haven’t done yet…

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 au contraire

and just to ram the point home…

Tuesday, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, reported that Hannity’s coverage of last week’s Michelle Bachmann ‘Press (cough Rally cough) Conference’ blatantly used archived footage of Glenn Beck’s 9/12 march and claimed it was live coverage showing 40,000+ people attending. OOPS

So Fox News is once again caught FALSIFYING it’s coverage to hype the message it wants to spread.

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

Re: Re: au contraire

Actually ‘Right for nothing’ sounds like a great catch phrase!

If Fox News did any reasonable journalism, frankly I wouldn’t have an issue with them. It’s the blatant hypocrisy and fear mongering that doesn’t help the national discourse.

Any criticism of Bush and his policies was met with cries of ‘traitor’ and ‘unamerican’. Now that the GOP has lost control of the WH and Congress, they seem to be quite happy to do nothing but criticize Obama and his policies.

The Tea Bagger ‘movement’ was utterly and completely promoted by Fox News. That’s not ‘journalism’, that’s propoganda.

You have the Fox pundits like Beck calling the President a racist and then Murdoch agreeing with him. Then there’s O’Reilly’s ambush interviewings; literally following a blogger on vacation 4 hours away in order to try and catch her off guard.

Sorry, Fox ‘News’ is not a news organization any more.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re: au contraire

Any criticism of Bush and his policies was met with cries of ‘traitor’ and ‘unamerican’

Sounds like the current state of affairs now doesn’t it? Any criticism of Obama is met with cries of foul from Dems.

The Tea Bagger ‘movement’ was utterly and completely promoted by Fox News.

Surveys of the teabaggers showed that 40% were Dems so no, unlike the liberal media would have you believe, it was a bi-partisan movement. The liberal media tried to paint them as nut jobs. See how that fits with the statement above?

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 au contraire

Who attended the Tea Bag parties is of little consequence to me. They were quite small and frankly pretty laughable.

My point was that Fox ‘News’ spent over a week promoting them on air. News agencies generally don’t ‘hype’ upcoming events incessantly for a week. Without Fox ‘News’ telling everybody about them every single hour, the already tepid turnout would have been even smaller.

You had Hannity caught on camera lying about turnouts. He’s told off air that the attendance was 2000-3500, and then he goes on air and says 15000-25000 easily.

The ‘grass roots’ movements Fox was supposedly reporting on have basically been unmasked as Freedom Works and other DC based lobbying efforts. Led by Dick Armey and other former GOP bigwigs with contributions from undisclosed sources, they even bused people into different events make it look like more people actually showed up than really did. Except that Fox didn’t unmask them…why? because they supported the propaganda they were pushing.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 au contraire

“Led by Dick Armey”

That’s right, and anyone who likes that assclown ought to do a little checking up on this idiot. Purely a prejudice, homophobic, hypocrite that got himself awfully close to either a sexual harrasment or worse charge stemming from several students reporting his aggressive advances.

I’m no Democrazy, but why are the Republican’ts always so vociferous about the vices they themselves are guilty of?

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 au contraire

for your first point. Please, by all means, point out where Dems are calling GOP’ers ‘unamerican’ or ‘traitors’ for voicing criticism? Hell you have Cheney himself out there publicly undermining the Office of the President. Had Gore done that in Feb 2001, you can bet the howls of treason would have been fast and furious from the Right for Nothing party.

Mostly I hear the Dems saying the GOP is blatantly distorting or outright lying about the actual details of bills and policies. “Death Panels” come to mind and “they’re going to pull the plug on Grandma” knowing full well they were lying all while pretending to negotiate in good faith. Calling such disingenuous behavior unfair or dangerous is a far cry from explicitly calling such action unamerican or aiding al-Quaeda, both of which explicit were said many many times during the run up to the war.

Or calling out the GOP when they cry foul over deficits. Um, really? after the last 8 years, NOBODY in the GOP has any credibility on fiscal governance.

How about Ari Fleischer? in 2001, after GOP losses in an off year election, he’s on the WH podium claiming that Governor’s races and special elections are about local issues and not indicative of a national mood. And guess what, now he’s a paid shill on CNN claiming that, by golly, the GOP wins in VA and NJ really are referendums on Obama despite polls showing that most people said it was about local issues.

You can’t buy hypocrisy like that.

AC says:

Re: Re: au contraire

@John Doe

How was Mike’s post about being against Fox News. Mike is pointing out how out of touch Rupert Murdoch is with the current ecology of online news. Mike’s post would apply if you replaced Fox News with MSNBC. It’s not about the news organization; it’s about Murdoch cutting himself off at the ankles with regard to his blocking Google from linking to his sites and about Cuban not taking into account Googles contribution as a source of “earned links”.

byteme says:

I say Google should just cut all of Murdoch’s news sites out of thier search results right now. He said that’s what he wants! Can’t get any clearer than that! Just do it!

In very short order, he will realize his mistake as his sites begin losing money and visitors like a sieve. Then, when he comes crawling back, admitting his mistake…make him pay a fee to be relisted!

And don’t stop there. Hollywood and the Music Industry should have all of their works blocked, as well. Give them what they want. Let them see how easy it is to fall into obscurity. I say that anyone who doesn’t want our attention, should get their wish. Then let’s see how well their businesses do.

ChronoFish says:

@ byteme

I often wonder why Google doesn’t do just that. At least reach out with a quick (public) educational moment and explain “robot.txt”.

Anytime News Corp (et. al.) complains about Google, Google should send a press release stating that News Corp has the ability to disengage from the Google-Plex at anytime.


Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: @ byteme

Fox News douse use a robot.txt, the contents were posted here a little while ago. The interesting part is that their robot.txt file explicitly tells the Google bot where to look. It’s literally changing one line of text to tell Google to shove off.

It would have been cheaper, faster, and more efficient just to tell his web admin to change the line of text. Makes it sound like Murdoch has something else going on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hey waittaminnit..

Um, doesn’t Murdoch stiil own MySpace?

Has he yet purchased either FaceBook or Twitter?

Could it be that MySpace users (at least the literate ones) are leaving the nonsensical noise which is MySpace for his competitor’s more sophisticated (or something) sites where users actually post something of occasional value?

With a sleaze like Murdoch, $ is even more important than spreading his facist viewpoint.

johnos says:

Rupert's Game

However loathsome, Rupert Murdoch is no idiot. He’s a gambler that places calculated bets. Sometimes (MySpace) the bets look stupid afterward, but he’s been right often enough to become a billionaire.

So its fair to say he probably knows exactly what he’s betting on here. Doesn’t mean the bet will pan out, but he knows what he’s trying to accomplish.

The simplest explanation is that its not about rights, morality, traffic or even power. Its about money. Rupert sees Google making gobs of money and he wants some. That’s why a robots.txt file won’t solve the problem. It doesn’t get him any of Google’s money.

If this speculation is correct, the whole paywall is a smokescreen. Its no more than a threat. If he can get enough content behind a paywall, Google will suffer. Their outbound links won’t be worth as much if they lead to a brick wall. The bet is that he can convince Google to come to the table without actually committing suicide by erecting the paywall. One would expect to see Murdoch spouting loudly while his minions talk to Google quietly. They will be saying “Rupert is crazy, nobody knows what he will do. Best to do a deal before he jumps into the deep end.”

Again, total speculation, but the basic idea explains a lot if its right.

John Doe says:

Re: Rupert's Game

I think you are right, he is bluffing to try to squeeze money from Google. He is trying to scare Google into thinking they will get cut off by his sites or by turning public opinion against Google to force them to pay up. I suspect and hope, neither tactic will work. If Google pays him, they will open the floodgate for everyone else to come calling with their hand out. No, I suspect Google will not give in and Rupert will give up.

DH's love child says:

Re: Rupert's Game

But you’re making an assumption that Google is making money hand over fist from news. News is such a small part of Google, that they wouldn’t feel a tingle from Murdoch blocking the links to their sites.

You also forget that Google is in the power position here. They have no reason to acquiesce to Murdoch on this. If this is an elaborate game of chicken, Google ain’t gonna blink. They’ll just say “fine, block us or put your paywall up and have a good life” and they won’t care.

You think for a minute that enough people are coming to Google ONLY for news content from NewsCorp? I want some of whatever you’re on, ’cause it must be some goooood s**t!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Rupert's Game

Except that paywalls don’t make Google suffer in the slightest. Google will still point to the most-viewed news sources, and if that source just happens to be a paywalled site…well, it’s still the most relevant search item, hence it’s still the link that a lot of people are looking for first.

If those paywalled sites lose their viewership, though, then they will drop significantly in Google’s search algorithm, and the top links will be sites that aren’t paywalled.

Google doesn’t care about individual websites and what content is on them, and it never did. All it cares about is returning the most relevant information. Even if “their outbound links…lead to a brickwall”, if those walls are at the top of the search listings, it means that the majority of people are still going to that brickwall.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Rupert's Game

by johnos

“If he can get enough content behind a paywall, Google will suffer. Their outbound links won’t be worth as much if they lead to a brick wall.”

No brick wall, just no traffic for Newscorp sites from Google because outbound links to Newscorp sites will have been removed. Their search traffic will go elsewhere on the web and Adwords will continue to work as it does now. No loss of traffic or revenues to Google, just to Newscorp.

Chris Lynch (user link) says:

Social discovery vs. search

I definitely agree with your point about the discovery of news and information as it relates to social versus search. Seems asinine to me when I hear social media “evangelists” talk about Twitter and Facebook becoming our RSS reader and sole method of discovering content. Instead, I think social discovery will work in tandem with search. As you noted, someone has to find info first before it can be shared on a social network effectively.

I had similar thoughts in my post yesterday about Murdoch.


Yeebok (profile) says:

They post crud though

Here’s the top 5 items from the feed on iGoogle at the moment :

Breast cancer hope from pigs (a pig has been forced to grow breasts .. eww)
‘Get off the boat and we’ll resettle you’ (This site implies the new offer’s OK but the Australian a paper owned by the same company is quoted as saying it’s been rejected.)
Parking inspector bitten in the face (the only extra detail is a location and car type)
Man forced girl, 11, to ‘abort after rape’ (a Fritzl type case)
Shark-on-shark attack shocks aquarium (no mention of the fact it was pregnant in the headline and had babies after)

Based on those headlines, I saw no need to click a link, but I did to show the dross the site vomits onto my screen.

Yes it’s all really indepth stuff. The world would be better off without it. In fact I just removed the gadget from igoogle.

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