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4/16/15

Google apologizes for lies to newspapers over 'nonsense' traffic stats in EU response

has apologized to the Guardian and Bild, after citing “nonsense” figures for the two sites’ traffic statistics in a response to the European Commission’s antitrust charges against the company.

The figures, which claimed that the two papers get “up to 85% of their traffic directly” and “less than 10%” from Google, were later retracted.

In the wake of the decision by European regulators to investigate the search firm for anticompetitive practices, Google’s senior vice president for search, Amit Singhal, published a blog post arguing against the allegations.

“Any economist would say that you typically do not see a ton of innovation, new entrants or investment in sectors where competition is stagnating – or dominated by one player. Yet that is exactly what’s happening in our world,” Singhal wrote. He argued that the wealth of innovation in sectors such as travel search, shopping comparisons, and social media is evidence that Google does not dominate any of those sectors.

Google also defended its role in news, an area not covered by the European Commission’s complaint but one where it is constantly under attack across Europe. In Spain, the company closed its news search product after the introduction of a so-called Google Tax required it to pay licensing fees to papers it aggregated. In Germany, major publishers accused Google of blackmail when it removed images and text snippets following a lawsuit.

Downplaying Google’s strength in the news field, Singhal wrote that “when it comes to news, users often go directly to their favourite sites. For example, Bild and The Guardian get up to 85% of their traffic directly. Less than 10% comes from Google.”

But those figures are “nonsense”, according to the Guardian’s audience editor Chris Moran. Citing the paper’s internal statistics, he said that “unknown traffic to Guardian fronts” – readers coming directly to the paper’s front page – “was broadly the same in [page views] as Google referral.”

Read more: Google apologises to newspapers over 'nonsense' traffic stats in EU response | Technology | The Guardian

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