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Google to Begin Forcing Users to Pay for Third-Party News

December 1, 2009

~Today, Google announced that it is making changes to it’s “first click free” program, part of Google News and Google web search, which enables participating news publishers to give users a “taste” of news, but then push them to a subscription page after viewing five articles on the external site. This news seems to follow Rupert Murdoch’s announcement that he may begin pulling his news website from Google’s index because they have been including his news in results without asking.

First click free, which has been in existence on Google News for a while, enables users to view entire articles from pay news sites without having to subscribe to the site. Apparently, this feature is to stop users from being fooled into visiting a site that appears to contain news or other information, but actually only presents them with a registration form – a process labeled as “cloaking“.

The move also allows publishers to give users a “taste” of the full paid news site before presenting them with a subscription page, which would put users off if it was presented directly upon visiting the site. Through the updated first click free program, users will be able to view up to five articles on a pay site per day, then will be presented with a subscription/pay page to continue viewing news or other information. This will apply to pages viewed through Google News and through the regular Google Web Search.

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