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Top publishers slip down in search

Google’s latest core algorithm update has dealt yet another blow to publishers striving to improve their search visibility. It follows a string of recent updates that have led to most news publishers to fall down the search giant’s rankings.

Data from SEO tool Sistrix shows that of 70 leading news publishers tracked by Press Gazette, based mostly on those that regularly appear in our UK top 50 ranking, all but 15 saw falls in their visibility score. Of those, almost half (33) saw declines in the double-digits.

Sistrix’s Visibility Index measures how successful a website is in Google search results, assigning higher scores to sites that rank better in search results.

One of Google’s ‘biggest core updates yet’

While Google core updates are nothing new and happen at least once a year, the update launched on 6 March 2024 was, according to SEO experts at Yoast, one of Google’s biggest core algorithm updates yet.

It was targeted at cleaning up low-quality, often AI-generated content cluttering search results and was rolled out over a number of weeks.

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Unlike the previous core update of late 2023, which particularly hit publishers with a traditional focus on scale often built with the aid of SEO-explainer-style articles, this update has negatively impacted both newer and more traditional news names.

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BBC News, for example, was among the sites that saw the biggest percentage drops, with its site losing 37% of its search visibility having fallen from 24.7 to 15.4 points in a little over six weeks. Its relative decline was second only to Canada-based entertainment site, Screenrant which saw its visibility fall by 40% from 27.6 to 16.7.

Other established publishers who saw large percentage dents

News publishers’ alliance calls on feds to investigate Google

The News/Media Alliance, a journalism trade organization and advocacy group, on Tuesday asked federal government officials to investigate Google after the tech giant said it would limit links to California news outlets in its search results.

The alliance, which represents publishers in the news and magazine industry, said Google’s actions appear “to either be coercive or retaliatory, driven by Google’s opposition to a pending legislative measure in Sacramento.”

The proposed state measure in question, called the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), would require tech companies, including Google, who sell advertising alongside news content to pay news publishers.

In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice, News/Media Alliance Chief Executive Danielle Coffey called on regulators to “investigate whether Google is violating federal law in blocking or impeding their ability to find news that they rely upon for their business, their prosperity, their pleasure, their democracy and, sometimes, their lives.”

The Los Angeles Times is a member of the News/Media Alliance.

Google called the claims in the News/Media Alliance’s letter “baseless” and the CJPA an “unworkable” bill that hurts “small local publishers to benefit large, out-of-state hedge funds.”

“We have proposed reasonable alternatives to CJPA that would increase our support for the California news ecosystem and support Californians’ access to news,” Google said in a statement. “We’ve long said CJPA isn’t the right approach, and we’ve taken a responsible and transparent step to prepare for its possible implementation.”

The FTC and the Justice Department declined to comment.

Google said Friday that it would start to test limiting some users’ access to links from California news outlets and raised concerns in a blog post about the bill, saying it would change its business model.

“We have long said that this is the wrong approach to supporting journalism,” Jaffer Zaidi,

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Google fires 28 employees who protested its cloud contract with Israeli government

Google said on Thursday it has terminated 28 employees after some staff participated in protests against the company’s cloud contract with the Israeli government.

The Alphabet unit said a small number of protesting employees entered and disrupted work at a few unspecified office locations.

“Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies and completely unacceptable behaviour,” the company said in a statement.

Google said it had concluded individual investigations, resulting in the termination of 28 employees, and would continue to investigate and take action as needed.

Nine Google workers who participated in the protest were reportedly arrested after staging sit-ins at several of the company’s offices, including one at the office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian.

The company separately announced on Wednesday that it would lay off an unspecified number of employees, following a slew of job cuts across Google and the tech and media industry this year.

‘Flagrant act of retaliation,’ some workers say

In a statement on Medium, Google workers affiliated with the No Tech for Apartheid campaign called it a “flagrant act of retaliation” and said that some employees who did not directly participate in Tuesday’s protests were also among those Google fired.

“Google workers have the right to peacefully protest about terms and conditions of our labour,” the statement added.

CBC News reached out to Google for further comment. A spokesperson for the company said that the protests “were part of a longstanding campaign by a group of organizations and people who largely don’t work at Google.”

The group posted photos and videos on social media showing workers in Google offices holding placards and sitting on the floor, chanting slogans.

The protesting faction says that Project Nimbus, a $1.2-billion contract awarded to Google and

Google removes links to California news sites, citing proposed state law requiring payment to publishers

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Google is removing links to California news websites in reaction to proposed state legislation requiring big tech companies to pay news outlets for their content, the company announced Friday in a blog post.

Google, which is a subsidiary of Alphabet (GOOGL), wrote the move would affect only a small percentage of California users, and is intended as a “test,” allowing the company to gauge “the impact of the legislation on our product experience.”

The California Journalism Preservation Act, which was introduced in March 2023 and is still awaiting a hearing by the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee, would require digital platforms like Google and Meta to pay a “journalism usage fee” to eligible news outlets when they use their content alongside digital ads.

Meta has not returned CNN’s request for comment.

The bill comes as more people have shifted away from finding and consuming news though traditional media and toward social and online platforms. The legislation was introduced amid fears the companies’ news aggregation practices will siphon users away from news websites, which have sounded the alarm about how platforms have gained increasingly unfettered control over the content they allow users to see.

On Friday evening, California State Senate President Pro-Tempore Mike McGuire, a co-author of the bill, called the move an act of “bullying” and an “abuse of power.”

“This is a dangerous threat by Google that not only sets a terrible precedent here in America, but puts public safety at risk for Californians who depend on the news to keep us informed of life-threatening emergencies and local public safety incidents,” he wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “This is a breach of public trust and we call on Google Executives to answer for this stunt.”

Lawmakers and proponents of the

Faced with possibly paying for news, Google removes links to California news sites for some users

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Google on Friday began removing California news websites from some people’s search results, a test that acted as a threat should the state Legislature pass a law requiring the search giant to pay media companies for linking to their content.

Google announced the move in a blog post on Friday, calling it a “short-term test for a small percentage of users … to measure the impact of the legislation on our product experience.” The company said it also would pause new investments in the California news industry, including the partnership initiative with news organizations and its product licensing program.

“By helping people find news stories, we help publishers of all sizes grow their audiences at no cost to them. (This bill) would up-end that model,” Jaffer Zaidi, Google’s vice president for global news partnerships, wrote in the blog post.

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The California Legislature is considering a bill that would require tech giants like Google, Facebook and Microsoft to pay a certain percentage of advertising revenue to media companies for linking to their content. How much the companies would have to pay would be decided by a panel of three judges through an arbitration process.

The bill aims to stop the loss of journalism jobs, which have been disappearing rapidly as legacy media companies have struggled to profit in the digital age. More than 2,500 newspapers have closed in the U.S. since 2005, according to Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. California has lost more than 100 news organizations in the past decade, according to Democratic Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, the bill’s author.

“This is a bill about basic fairness — it’s about ensuring that platforms pay for the content they repurpose,” Wicks said. “We are

Former Google engineer charged with stealing AI tech while secretly working with Chinese firms

A former software engineer at Google has been charged with stealing artificial intelligence technology from the company while secretly working with two companies based in China, the U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday.

Linwei Ding, a Chinese national, was arrested in Newark, Calif., on four counts of federal trade secret theft, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The case against Ding was being announced at an American Bar Association Conference in San Francisco by Attorney General Merrick Garland, who along with other law enforcement leaders has repeatedly warned about the threat of Chinese economic espionage and about the national security concerns posed by advancements in artificial intelligence.

“Today’s charges are the latest illustration of the lengths affiliates of companies based in the People’s Republic of China are willing to go to steal American innovation,” FBI director Christopher Wray said in a statement.

“The theft of innovative technology and trade secrets from American companies can cost jobs and have devastating economic and national security consequences.”

Ding uploaded files to personal account: indictment

U.S. Justice Department leaders in recent weeks have been sounding alarms about how foreign adversaries could harness AI technologies to negatively affect the United States.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a speech last month that the administration’s multi-agency Disruptive Technology Strike Force would place AI enforcement at the top of its priority list. Wray told business leaders at an event last week that AI and other emerging technologies had made it easier for adversaries to try to interfere with the U.S. political process.

WATCH | Canadian court bars Chinese student over spying concerns: 

Federal court bars Chinese student over espionage risk concerns

A Federal Court judge has barred a Chinese engineering student from studying in Canada, over concerns the engineering student could be pressured by

Ottawa reaches deal with Google over controversial Online News Act

Ottawa has been locked in battle with U.S. tech giants Google and Meta over the sharing of Canadian news on their platforms

The Liberal government is hinting that it will take steps to limit how much money Canada’s publicly funded broadcaster can collect under Ottawa’s new revenue-sharing agreement with Google.

The agreement announced Wednesday requires Google to provide up to $100 million a year to Canadian news organizations whose content is featured on their sites, with each outlet’s share of the pie depending on how many full-time journalists they employ.

Under draft regulations laid out in the Online News Act, which will regulate the deal, CBC/Radio-Canada currently stands to collect the largest share, since they employ one-third of the journalistic workforce in Canada.

“I don’t think that CBC/Radio-Canada needs to leave with a third of the envelope, so we will address that in the final regulations that will be published soon before the coming-into-force of the law,” Pascale St-Onge said in French. 

Both the Opposition and Bloc Québécois have been critical of how much CBC/Radio-Canada stands to collect from the deal — as much as $33 million a year, according to Conservative MP Rachael Thomas, the official Opposition critic for Canadian Heritage. 

“Those local media outlets will receive very little, and possibly nothing at all. This bill has killed them,” said Thomas, who sits on the Canadian Heritage committee where St-Onge testified Thursday. 

“Big tech has colluded with big government to do away with news in this country. It will be less choice for Canadians and less access for Canadians. It’s a shame.”

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet pointed to the revenues CBC/Radio-Canada already receives, including nearly $1.3 billion in the last fiscal year from government funding, plus advertising and subscriptions. 

“After a careful calculation I arrived to a huge

Verizon Joins RE100 and Shares New Milestones in its Responsible Business Plan

Verizon Sourcing LLC

Verizon Sourcing LLC

NEW YORK, March 28, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today, Verizon announced it has joined RE100, a global initiative bringing together the world’s most influential businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity. Led by the Climate Group and in partnership with CDP, RE100’s mission is to accelerate change towards zero carbon grids at scale, an objective that Verizon is proud to support. As previously announced, Verizon aims to source renewable energy equivalent to 100% of its annual electricity usage by 2030, with an interim target of 50% by 2025.

“As a core part of our business, Verizon looks to benefit the communities where we operate, identify ways to be stronger and more resilient and create long-term, measurable value for our shareholders, customers, employees and society alike,” said James Gowen, Senior Vice President, Global Supply Chain & Sourcing, and Chief Sustainability Officer at Verizon. “Joining this global initiative further underscores Verizon’s dedication to reducing our carbon footprint and transitioning to renewable energy to help protect the planet for future generations.”

The move to join RE100 aligns with Verizon’s long-standing commitment to drive both environmental and social progress as part of its responsible business plan, Citizen Verizon, empowering the company to deliver on its mission to move the world forward by addressing pressing societal issues.

Verizon’s recently published 2023 ESG Report highlights the company’s efforts to minimize its carbon footprint through emissions and energy management. As of year-end 2022, Verizon had achieved a 23.3% reduction in scopes 1 and 2 emissions and 15.1% reduction in scope 3 emissions over a 2019 baseline. Verizon continues to leverage its AI capabilities, IoT offerings, supplier relationships and increasingly electric fleet to drive emissions reduction not only throughout its operations, but also for its customers. As of year-end 2023, Verizon solutions had enabled the

Google Fined $270 Million, in Part Over How It Trained Its AI

Google was hit with a roughly $270 million fine on Wednesday, in part over how it trained its AI.

French regulators say Google went back on its commitments tied to negotiating deals with news outlets in France for their content. The watchdog alleged Google used the journalists’ content without telling them in order to teach its AI chatbot Bard — now rebranded as Gemini.

Google had promised in a previous settlement to “negotiate in good faith based on transparent, objective and non-discriminatory criteria,” which the regulators referred to as “Commitment 1.”

The regulators said there are still legal questions related to the use of news content to train AI models, but “at the very least, the Autorité considers that Google breached Commitment 1 by failing to inform publishers of the use of their content for their Bard software.”

The regulators also said that Google failed to cooperate with a monitoring trustee installed as part of a previous settlement, didn’t negotiate in good faith, and didn’t provide complete revenue information to negotiating parties.

The California-based company was fined €250 million over the listed violations and did not dispute the facts, the French regulators said.

In a statement released Wednesday, Google said the fine was “not proportionate” to the allegations.

Google said it agreed to pay because it was “time to move on.”

In its statement, Google said it was focused on “the larger goal of sustainable approaches to connecting people with quality content and on working constructively with French publishers.”

“Throughout the last few years, we have been willing to discuss concerns from publishers or the FCA and that is still the case today,” Google wrote. “But it is now time for greater clarity on who and how we should be paying so that all parties can plan a course