The Treasurer has reacted to Google’s ‘experiment’ with Australian search results. 

Reports this week revealed Google is tinkering with its algorithm, removing stories from Australian news publishers from its search results.

Australian users have reported that searches for content from prominent news websites are coming up with old links and content from other sources.

Google has confirmed that it is running an experiment, but says most users will not notice.

“We’re currently running a few experiments that will each reach about 1 per cent of Google search users in Australia to measure the impacts of news businesses and Google search on each other,” a Google spokesperson said.

But the timing and nature of the experiment have been questioned, given that Google is currently fighting against a proposed code that would require it to pay publishers for news that appears in its search results. 

The Federal Government wants Google and Facebook to work out deals with media publishers so that news creators are paid by the technology giants. Reports say News Corp has undertaken negotiations with Google and Facebook on content licensing deals outside of the proposed media bargaining code.

Google has placed a link to a blog post on all of its Australian searches that states; “It’s not just Google that has concerns about the news code. Hear from others.”

The linked post goes through a range of submissions echoing Google’s own concerns with the code, including from Atlassian, the Business Council of Australia and small publishers Star News Group and GoAutoMedia.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the company should be focused on making deals with news outlets, not trying to kill the code.

“The digital giants should focus on paying for original content, not blocking it,” he said this week.

“That’s my message to those digital giants. As you know we have introduced legislation which is now before a Senate committee to put in place a world-leading mandatory code to see those digital giants pay traditional news media businesses a fair sum of money for those news media businesses generating original content.”