Google to limit free access to online news

Publishers will be able to set a limit on the number of articles people can read for free through Google using the First Click Free initiative
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By Claudine Beaumont, Technology Editor

4:25PM GMT 02 Dec 2009


It means that content providers, such as newspaper publishers, will be able to restrict how many stories people are able to read online for free.

The move comes just weeks after Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, which owns newspapers such as the Sun and the Wall Street Journal, announced plans to start charging readers for accessing online content. Another newspaper publisher, Johnston Press, has also said it would start charging for some of its online content, including local newspapers such as the Yorkshire Post and The Scotsman.

Under the new Google initiative, publishers can join a special program, known as First Click Free, which allows Google to index content on the publisher's website but prevents users from reading other articles on that site without first registering or signing up to a subscription package.

Josh Cohen, a senior business manager at Google, said it meant that publishers could ensure their content was "discoverable" while still being able to maintain their own paywalls.

"The user's first click to the content is free, but when a user clicks on additional links on the site, the publisher can show a payment or registration request," wrote Mr Cohen on a blog post. "First Click Free is a great way for publishers to promote their content and for users to check out a news source before deciding whether to pay.
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"Previously, each click from a user would be treated as free. Now, we've updated the program so that publishers can limit users to no more than five pages per day without registering or subscribing."

The changes mean that Google users could start seeing registration pages appear when they click on the same First Click Free member website for a sixth time in a single day.

"We're going to keep talking with publishers to refine these methods," wrote Mr Cohen. "After all, whether you're offering your content for free or selling it, it's crucial that people find it. Google can help with that."

Google's role as a news aggregator has been widely criticised in recent months. Robert Thompson, managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, described websites such as Google as "parasites" and "tech tapeworms in the intestines of the internet", while Rupert Murdoch said search engines "steal our stories".

Mr Murdoch said newspapers needed to do "a better job of persuading consumers that high quality, reliable news and information does not come free".

But Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, said that newspaper publishers were in "digital denial" and needed to "stop whining".

“The written news industry is currently in a state of flux, with dwindling revenues threatening long-established publishers," said Patrick Charnley, a solicitor with law firm Eversheds.

"The emerging business model is ill-defined at present, but limiting Google's free dissemination of news is a vital step towards any attempt to erect pay walls".


How To: Keep your Facebook News Feed Clutter- free?

Your Facebook News Feed gives you a glimpse of what your friends are up to, and keeps you well informed with some interesting posts and updates from the Pages that you have liked. However , more often the relevant posts from the pages that you would really like to follow and from the people you would really like to keep in touch with, gets drowned in the flood of spammy posts from the irrelevant pages and from the people you hardly speak to. To ensure that you don’t miss out on the important stuff from the preferred pages and your network of close friends, you have to optimize your news feed and keep it clutter-free. Here are few ways to do the same.

Hide the Irrelevant Posts and People

If you find your news feed constantly cluttered with irrelevant posts from one of your Facebook friends or the Facebook pages you have liked, but you don’t want to unfriend the person or unlike the page, then you can opt to hide the post or hide all the posts from that person or page. Just click the “x” next to the post and choose the option “Hide this post” or “Hide all the Post”.

Customize your News Feed with Lists

One of the best ways to make sure you don’t miss out on updates from the significant people in your connections, is by creating lists and grouping your connections into different categories like “family”, “close friends”, “colleagues” etc. To create a list, click “Friends” option in the left sidebar, then click “Edit Friends and “Create a List.” Once you’re done with making lists, your lists would show under the “Most Recent” option on the News feed page. You can then choose any list from the drop down menu to view news only from only the people in that group.

Want to keep track of status updates from specific pages? You can put all the pages into one list and use Facebook like an RSS reader, supplying you with real-time news and updates.

Receiving posts from same people again and again? Refresh the Feed

Facebook, by default, fills your news feed with updates from people that you interact with the most, people you’re tagged with in pictures, and people you talk to more often. As a result your news feed often get filled with content from the same people, again and again. To get updates from all your friends and liked pages , just head to the “Most Recent” drop down menu at the top of your home page, choose “Edit options”, and then change it to “All of your friends and pages.”

View Posts by Category

You might want to check feed of only specific type, like only status updates from your friends, or their newly uploaded photos, devoid of updates from the pages. To view feeds of a specific category, click the “Most Recent” option on the news feed page and in the drop down menu you’ll see options to filter the feed by status updates, photos, pages, links, and more.

Clean your Facebook Profile

To reduce the complexity of customizing your Facebook feeds, and changing the visibility settings of your profile for each and every person you are connected to on the site, it’s always better to think before you ‘Friend’ someone or ‘Like’ a page. By being selective about the people you are connected to, and the pages you follow, you can save a lot of time that you might otherwise spend managing your profile and clearing the unnecessary clutter. So, make a conscious effort to clean your profile and remove irrelevant contacts and pages, gradually.