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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 8:43am

    au contraire

    "Taking News Corp. sites out of the picture doesn't help at all."

    It doesn't help News Corp. but it sure as hell helps the rest of the 'thinking' world.

     

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  2.  
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    John Doe, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 8:49am

    Re: au contraire

    Ah, another lib who thinks that he is right. Why are you so afraid of Fox News? If they are so far off base then you have nothing to worry about. If they aren't, then why be against them? Can you not handle counter opinions?

    Besides, they don't call it the "right" for nothing. ;>)

     

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  3.  
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    Designerfx (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 9:01am

    murdoch and idiocy

    only reason murdoc's bad business moves even get a peep out of the news is because he owns said news. Overall, the man is basically the cause of newspaper downfall (and plenty of websites going bad).

    I look forward to when the man croaks.

     

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  4.  
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    Esahc (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 9:01am

    Re: Re: au contraire

    It's comments like that, which make me ashamed to be "conservative".

     

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  5.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 9:04am

    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.

     

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  6.  
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    Stuart, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 9:05am

    Fuck all

    businesses that cant make a profit without government regulating someone else.

     

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  7.  
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    byteme, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 9:09am

    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.

     

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  8.  
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    AC, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 9:19am

    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".

     

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  9.  
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    ChronoFish, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 9:21am

    @ 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.

    -CF

     

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  10.  
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    AC, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 9:21am

    Re: Re: au contraire

    furthermore, pixelpusher220 is pointing out that by blocking sites that link to his content, Murdoch is opening a big opportunity for his competition in the online marketplace.

     

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  11.  
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    johnos, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 9:34am

    Rupert

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 9:45am

    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.

     

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  13.  
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    John Doe, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 9:55am

    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?

     

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  14.  
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    John Doe, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 9:56am

    Re: Re: Re: au contraire

    @AC - my comments were aimed at pixelpusher220, not Mike. pixelpusher220 was making an anti-Fox News comment.

     

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  15.  
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    johnos, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:02am

    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.

     

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  16.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:11am

    I'll say it again...

    I learned long ago never to trust a man named after a MacGyver villain...

     

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  17.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

     

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  18.  
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    davebarnes (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:16am

    Robert X Cringley has a great take on this

    http://www.cringely.com/2009/11/news-corp-to-offer-plaid-stamps/comment-page-1/

    "...Rupert Murdoch, who is brilliant in his own right but in this case can’t find his own URL with both hands...."

     

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  19.  
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    John Doe, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:32am

    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.

     

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  20.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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?

     

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  21.  
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    DH's love child, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:36am

    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!

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:37am

    Tell me this...

    Why is Google a problem, but Drudge Report was never a problem?

    Think about it.

     

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  23.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:41am

    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.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 10:52am

    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.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 11:00am

    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.

     

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  27.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 11:10am

    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.

     

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  28.  
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    John Doe, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: au contraire

    I don't get it; the Dems/libs can attack Bush or any Republican they like and that is ok. But let a Republican attack a Dem/lib and it is just plain wrong. Why can a Republican not use the liberal tactics? Are they patented/copyrighted?

     

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  29.  
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    Chargone (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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 :)

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 12:51pm

    by John Doe
    "I don't get it"

    Here, I'll explain it to you: Your comment and the comment you responded to are both off topic. The topic is "Murdoch's Move Against Google". Inserting your political viewpoints into the thread is off topic. Got it?

     

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  31.  
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    Bryan Price (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 1:08pm

    Cuban still doesn't get it.

    Twitter and Facebook replacing Google sounds like a plan, the problem is then you have to make sure you're following the right persons. If I don't, then guess what I have to do? That's right, use Google.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: au contraire

    Ah, rhetorical fallacies. John Doe, your two above comments are so loaded with them that all you should get as a response is STFU douche.

     

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  33.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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 "DidGlennBeckRapeAndMurderAYoungGirlIn1990.com"
    or see this link:
    http://gawker.com/5400754/glenn-beck-meets-internet-loses

    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...

     

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  34.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Nov 10th, 2009 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: au contraire

    While I'll agree there are many fanatics on both sides, to me it just seems like the Dems/libs seem to be based a lot more in actual facts and substance.

     

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  35.  
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    David Schuster, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 6:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: au contraire

    If You're Tea Bagging, You're Going to Need a Dick Armey

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 6:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: au contraire

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    LH, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: au contraire

    Surveys done by FoxNews?

     

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  38.  
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    Chris Lynch, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 2:57pm

    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.

    /cgl

     

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  39.  
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    Yeebok (profile), Nov 11th, 2009 @ 11:13pm

    They post crud though

    Here's the top 5 items from the news.com.au 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 news.com.au gadget from igoogle.

     

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  40.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Nov 12th, 2009 @ 5:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Steve, Nov 13th, 2009 @ 9:24pm

    When I read news topics I want the whole article. Not just someones 2 line 'opinion' about the topic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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