Google makes it easier for news sites to opt-out

Publishers can now use robots.txt to opt-out of both Google search and news
  • (PC World (US online))
  • — 03 December, 2009 07:51

In what will be seen as a concession to media baron Rupert Murdoch, Google has made it easier for news sites -such as those Murdoch controls - to opt-out of Google News.

Where they used to have to fill out an online form to opt-out of Google's news aggregation site, publishers will soon have a means to opt-out or set other options automatically, using a small file placed on their sites.

Murdoch has previously threatened to take News Corp content, including the Australian and the Times of London, off Google when at some point in the future they become paid sites. His Wall Street Journal and Barron's are already largely subscription-based.

Murdoch told a US Federal Trade Commission hearing that "there is no such thing as free news" and reiterated his statement that News Corp sites would move to a paid model.

As for the aggregators, "these people are not investing in journalism," Murdoch said. "They're feeding off the hard-earned efforts and investments of others."

"To be impolite, it's theft," he added.

His remarks targeting Google prompted Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington to respond that "aggregation is part of the Web's DNA" and that old media needs to "get real."

Murdoch has also reportedly been in talks with Microsoft that would result is News Corp content being removed from Google and enhanced on Microsoft's Bing, which would pay News Corp a fee in return for exclusivity. Recent reports, however, say the talks have been overplayed in the media.

Google, which also attended the FTC meeting, made its announcement in a blog post outlining extensions to the Robots Exclusion Protocol, already used to prevent Google and other search engines from indexing Web sites. The extensions will give publishers control over how their sites are treated by Google News.

"Now, with the news-specific crawler, if a publisher wants to opt out of Google News, they don't even have to contact us - they can put instructions just for user-agent Googlebot-News in the same robots.txt file they have today," wrote Google's Josh Cohen in the post.

Robots.txt is a small file that developers can place in the root directory of their Web sites that contain the Robots Exclusion Protocol commands.

"In addition, once this change is fully in place, it will allow publishers to do more than just allow/disallow access to Google News. They'll also be able to apply the full range of REP directives just to Google News. Want to block images from Google News, but not from Web Search? Go ahead. Want to include snippets in Google News, but not in Web Search? Feel free. All this will soon be possible with the same standard protocol that is REP," Cohen added.

It's not likely most users will notice any difference as a result of the change, unless a large number of publishers decide to abandon Google News and the estimated 1 billion clicks-a-month it generates for participating publishers (including PC World)

"Most people put their content on the web because they want it to be found, so very few choose to exclude their material from Google. But we respect publishers' wishes. If publishers don't want their websites to appear in web search results or in Google News, we want to give them easy ways to remove it. We're excited about this change and will start rolling it out today," Cohen said in concluding his post announcing the change.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

David Coursey

PC World (US online)
Topics: Google News, Google, media, news corp
Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
Use WhistleOut's technology to compare:
Mobile phone plans & deals
Mobile phone models
Mobile phone carriers
Broadband plans & deals
Broadband providers
Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?