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Google to take down search function over new Australian law

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Kowani
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Google to take down search function over new Australian law

Postby Kowani » Fri Jan 22, 2021 2:56 pm

Source 1

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Google says it would have "no real choice" but to shut down its search engine in Australia if Australia passes a new law requiring Google to pay news sites to link to their articles. This would "set an untenable precedent for our business and the digital economy," said Google's Mel Silva in Friday testimony before the Australian Senate.

News organizations around the world have been struggling financially over the last decade or two. Many have blamed Internet companies like Google and Facebook that—in their view—have diverted advertising revenue that once went to news organizations. Some in the news industry argue that Google benefits from including news stories in its search results and should compensate news sites for the privilege of doing so.

So last year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission proposed a new mandatory arbitration process designed to correct a supposed power imbalance between tech giants and Australian news sites. Under the new framework, news sites can demand that tech platforms (initially Google and Facebook) pay them for linking to their stories. Google and Facebook are required to negotiate "in good faith" toward a payment agreement.

You might think that Google would simply stop linking to Australian news sites. But that won't be allowed under the ACCC proposal. New non-discrimination rules require Google to treat sites the same whether or not it has to pay to link to them.

Australia's proposal has provoked a broad backlash from advocates of the open Web—including the inventor of the Web itself. In a letter to the Australian Senate earlier this week, Tim Berners-Lee argued that Australia's proposal would set a damaging "To my knowledge, there is no current example of legally requiring payments for links to other content," Berners-Lee said. "The ability to link freely—meaning without limitations regarding the content of the linked site and without monetary fees—is fundamental to how the Web operates."

Google is under pressure around the world

Australia isn't the only country where Google is facing increasing pressure to pay news sites. This week, Google announced it had negotiated a framework to pay French news sites for the right to include them in its search results.

Technically, the French law is different from Australia's proposal. In its law implementing the 2019 EU Copyright Directive, France required Google to pay for the use of news "snippets" in search results. Google stopped using the snippets to avoid paying. But then France's competition authority objected, arguing that refusing to use snippets—and pay news sites for them—was an abuse of Google's market power. Despite reservations about the French law, Google announced an agreement with French news organizations this week. As we wrote on Thursday, France's success provides a roadmap for other European countries that want to force Google to pay their news organizations, too. And it may undermine Google's bargaining power in Australia as well. In Australia, Google has portrayed free links as a principle so sacrosanct that it would shut down its search engine before agreeing to pay. But in France, Google seems to have accepted a similar arrangement without shutting down its French search engine.

This may be because France has more leverage than Australia. Not only is France a larger country than Australia, but France's membership in the EU may have given it added leverage.

On the other hand, it may be that the specifics of the Australian proposal make it more offensive to Google. One area of concern for Google is the use of baseball-style arbitration rules. Under this bargaining system, each side (in this case Google or Facebook on one side and a news publisher on the other) submits a single proposal to a neutral arbitrator. The arbitrator must then decide which of the two proposals is more "reasonable" and adopt it. In theory, this structure gives both sides an incentive to meet the other party halfway. But Google worries that the system will be based on "biased criteria" and will create "unmanageable financial and operational risk for Google."

Australia's proposal requires Google to notify Australian news sites of changes to its search algorithm 28 days in advance. Google has traditionally kept details about its algorithm secret and argues that disclosing this information to Australian news publishers would give those publishers an unfair advantage over other websites.

The new Australian law would also require Google to share traffic data with news sites, raising concerns about user privacy.

In any event, Australian officials don't seem worried about Google's opposition.

We don’t respond to threats," said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday. "Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia."


Google has threatened to close its search engine in Australia — as it dials up its lobbying against draft legislation that is intended to force it to pay news publishers for reuse of their content.

Facebook would also be subject to the law. And Facebook has previously said it would ban news from being shared on its products owing if the law was brought in, as well as claiming it’s reduced its investment in the country as a result of the legislative threat.

“The principle of unrestricted linking between websites is fundamental to Search. Coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk if this version of the Code were to become law it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia,” Google warned today.

Last August the tech giant took another pot-shot at the proposal, warning that the quality of its products in the country could suffer and might stop being free if the government proceeded with a push to make the tech giants share ad revenue with media businesses.

Since last summer Google appears to have changed lobbying tack — apparently giving up its attempt to derail the law entirely in favor of trying to reshape it to minimize the financial impact.

Its latest bit of lobbying is focused on trying to eject the most harmful elements (as it sees it) of the draft legislation — while also pushing its News Showcase program, which it hastily spun up last year, as an alternative model for payments to publishers that it would prefer becomes the vehicle for remittances under the Code.

The draft legislation for Australia’s digital news Code which is currently before the parliament includes a controversial requirement that tech giants Google and Facebook pay publishers for linking to their content — not merely for displaying snippets of text.

Yet Google has warned Australia that making it pay for “links and snippets” would break how the internet works.

In a statement to the Senate Economics Committee today, its VP for Australia and New Zealand, Mel Silva, said: “This provision in the Code would set an untenable precedent for our business, and the digital economy. It’s not compatible with how search engines work, or how the internet works, and this is not just Google’s view — it has been cited in many of the submissions received by this Inquiry.

“The principle of unrestricted linking between websites is fundamental to Search. Coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk if this version of the Code were to become law it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia.”

Google is certainly not alone in crying foul over a proposal to require payments for links.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, has warned that the draft legislation “risks breaching a fundamental principle of the web by requiring payment for linking between certain content online”, among other alarmed submissions to the committee.

In written testimony he goes on:

Before search engines were effective on the web, following links from one page to another was the only way of finding material. Search engines make that process far more effective, but they can only do so by using the link structure of the web as their principal input. So links are fundamental to the web.

As I understand it, the proposed code seeks to require selected digital platforms to have to negotiate and possibly pay to make links to news content from a particular group of news providers.

Requiring a charge for a link on the web blocks an important aspect of the value of web content. To my knowledge, there is no current example of legally requiring payments for links to other content. The ability to link freely — meaning without limitations regarding the content of the linked site and without monetary fees — is fundamental to how the web operates, how it has flourished till present, and how it will continue to grow in decades to come.

However, it’s notable that Berners-Lee’s submission does not mention snippets. Not once. It’s all about links.

Meanwhile, Google has just reached an agreement with publishers in France — which they say covers payment for snippets of content.

In the EU, the tech giant is subject to an already reformed copyright directive that extended a neighbouring right for news content to cover reuse of snippets of text. Although the directive does not cover links or “very short extracts”.

In France, Google says it’s only paying for content “beyond links and very short extracts”. But it hasn’t said anything about snippets in that context.

French publishers argue the EU law clearly does cover the not-so-short text snippets that Google typically shows in its News aggregator — pointing out that the directive states the exception should not be interpreted in a way that impacts the effectiveness of neighboring rights. So Google looks like it would have a big French fight on its hands if it tried to deny payments for snippets.

But there’s still everything to play for in Australia. Hence, down under, Google is trying to conflate what are really two separate and distinct issues (payment for links versus payment for snippets) — in the hopes of reducing the financial impact versus what’s already baked into EU law. (Although it’s only been actively enforced in France so far, which is ahead of other EU countries in transposing the directive into national law.)

In Australia, Google is also heavily pushing for the Code to “designate News Showcase” (aka the program it launched once the legal writing was on the wall about paying publishers) — lobbying for that to be the vehicle whereby it can reach “commercial agreements to pay Australian news publishers for value”.

Of course, a commercial negotiation process is preferable (and familiar) to the tech giant versus being bound by the Code’s proposed “final offer arbitration model” — which Google attacks as having “biased criteria”, and claims subjects it to “unmanageable financial and operational risk”.

“If this is replaced with standard commercial arbitration based on comparable deals, this would incentivise good faith negotiations and ensure we’re held accountable by robust dispute resolution,” Silva also argues.

A third provision the tech giant is really keen gets removed from the current draft requires it to give publishers notification ahead of changes to its algorithms which could affect how their content is discovered.

“The algorithm notification provision could be adjusted to require only reasonable notice about significant actionable changes to Google’s algorithm, to make sure publishers are able to respond to changes that affect them,” it suggests on that.

It’s certainly interesting to consider how, over a few years, Google’s position has moved from “we’ll never pay for news” — pre- any relevant legislation — to “please let us pay for licensing news through our proprietary licensing program” once the EU had passed a directive now being very actively enforced in France (with the help of competition law) and also with Australia moving toward inking a similar law.

Turns out legislation can be a real tech giant mind-changer.

Of course the idea of making anyone pay to link to content online is obviously a terrible idea — and should be dropped.

But if that bit of the draft is a negotiating tactic by Australian lawmakers to get Google to accept that it will have to pay publishers something then it appears to be a winning one.

And while Google’s threat to close down its search engine might sound “full on”, as Silva suggests, when you consider how many alternative search engines exist, it’s hardly the threat it once was.

Especially as plenty of alternative search engines are a lot less abusive toward users’ privacy.


Tl;dr: Australia, attempting to protect journalism, is forcing Google to go through an arbitrator to decide on an amount, and pay news sites that they link to in their search results. Google, for obvious reasons, is not happy with this, and is threatening to pull down the search function for the entire country.


So, NSG, who do you support? Do you think Australia is in the right and Google is taking advantage of news publications? Or do you think this constitutes too large of an infringement of the functioning of the web? Is Google overreacting?
And how do you think all of these shenanigans will end?
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Postby Albrenia » Fri Jan 22, 2021 3:01 pm

As an Aussie, I think that Australia is in the right here, but I also think that Google won't follow through on its threat either. Even if it does, there's plenty of other search engines, VPNs and so on to get around such things.

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Postby Bogi Smerti » Fri Jan 22, 2021 3:04 pm

Yes, I for one think that Australia is in the right for wishing to pass this law, as this will hopefully help news organizations stay afloat for a little longer.

Google is acting like a small child throwing a temper tantrum over not getting their shitty transformer's toy they want so much, they should chill the fuck out.
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Postby Silvedania » Fri Jan 22, 2021 3:06 pm

I heard about this argument on a youtube video. It's too heated, but I'm siding with the news companies right now.
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Postby Saiwania » Fri Jan 22, 2021 3:25 pm

No I'm not going to side with the news media. Most such publications push some political agenda or policies I don't support more often than not. Plus if I didn't pay for any newspapers before the internet became big, I don't see myself paying for their online content either if I'm curious enough to view their articles anyways.

Matter of fact, I have an add-on that circumvents or disables a lot of paywalls in place for most major news sources. Its too bad, but that is how the internet is. Some people will do all they can to avoid/disable advertising because of past bad experiences or security risks with online ads. Also perhaps because it wastes bandwidth and time to let a page full of ads fully load. The only online advertising that really ever influences me are banner ads maybe.

I think the problem is kind of like how it is with telephones. Nobody answers the phone anymore because chances are its automated calls or spam, plus there is text and videoconferencing as an alternative.

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Postby Ethel mermania » Fri Jan 22, 2021 3:43 pm

You would think the papers in question would be happy for the link. They make money from their advertisers paying for the eyeballs gotten from those links.

Google will just stop their webcrawler from browsing Australian sites and those sites and will disappear from the Googleverse.
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Postby Intaglio » Fri Jan 22, 2021 3:46 pm

I stand with Google here; it's ridiculous for them to expect Google to have to pay just to link their articles. I don't see any other kind of site expecting search engines to pay them just for links.

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Postby Des-Bal » Fri Jan 22, 2021 4:02 pm

Fuck Australia, let them go dark.

Intaglio wrote:I stand with Google here; it's ridiculous for them to expect Google to have to pay just to link their articles. I don't see any other kind of site expecting search engines to pay them just for links.

My concern is that you will see that. Why would the precedent that you should get money for being listed on google start and end with this?
Last edited by Des-Bal on Fri Jan 22, 2021 4:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Page » Fri Jan 22, 2021 4:13 pm

God, I don't want to side with Google but having to pay sites you link in a search engine is fucking preposterous, it would be like making the phone book pay the pizza place to have their number in the book.
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Postby Silvedania » Fri Jan 22, 2021 4:15 pm

Intaglio wrote:I stand with Google here; it's ridiculous for them to expect Google to have to pay just to link their articles. I don't see any other kind of site expecting search engines to pay them just for links.

That's not what it is. It's Google taking from the sources and showing the answer right there. This is seen in this example that I have posted the URL to because NS cannot verify its dimensions.
https://imgur.com/a/bP2hQyv
Many of those companies rely on ad money, which they are not benefitting from when the info they are hosting is just there for people to see on google. Without this money, those websites will run out of money and not be able to even host that information in the first place.
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Postby Albrenia » Fri Jan 22, 2021 4:17 pm

Pretty sure it's not a case of 'pay to link' and more of a case of 'pay to show the news article's content'.

Granted I've only a passing understanding of the matter.

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Postby Silvedania » Fri Jan 22, 2021 4:17 pm

Albrenia wrote:Pretty sure it's not a case of 'pay to link' and more of a case of 'pay to show the news article's content'.

Granted I've only a passing understanding of the matter.

That's actually right.
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Postby Des-Bal » Fri Jan 22, 2021 4:44 pm

Silvedania wrote:That's not what it is. It's Google taking from the sources and showing the answer right there. This is seen in this example that I have posted the URL to because NS cannot verify its dimensions.
https://imgur.com/a/bP2hQyv
Many of those companies rely on ad money, which they are not benefitting from when the info they are hosting is just there for people to see on google. Without this money, those websites will run out of money and not be able to even host that information in the first place.


That's what they're fighting about broadly but Australis is specifically talking about requiring google pay just to link and insisting that they can't just delist content they'd otherwise have to pay to link to.
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Postby Silvedania » Fri Jan 22, 2021 4:51 pm

Des-Bal wrote:
Silvedania wrote:That's not what it is. It's Google taking from the sources and showing the answer right there. This is seen in this example that I have posted the URL to because NS cannot verify its dimensions.
https://imgur.com/a/bP2hQyv
Many of those companies rely on ad money, which they are not benefitting from when the info they are hosting is just there for people to see on google. Without this money, those websites will run out of money and not be able to even host that information in the first place.


That's what they're fighting about broadly but Australis is specifically talking about requiring google pay just to link and insisting that they can't just delist content they'd otherwise have to pay to link to.

Well then Australia is going to far. I am incredulous that the companies want their names removed, as it helps to attract visitors.
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Postby Ethel mermania » Fri Jan 22, 2021 4:53 pm

Silvedania wrote:
Intaglio wrote:I stand with Google here; it's ridiculous for them to expect Google to have to pay just to link their articles. I don't see any other kind of site expecting search engines to pay them just for links.

That's not what it is. It's Google taking from the sources and showing the answer right there. This is seen in this example that I have posted the URL to because NS cannot verify its dimensions.
https://imgur.com/a/bP2hQyv
Many of those companies rely on ad money, which they are not benefitting from when the info they are hosting is just there for people to see on google. Without this money, those websites will run out of money and not be able to even host that information in the first place.


That is not the complete article, it is just a tease of it, so the person viewing knows whether they want to click through.

This attempt of taxation is a fundamental misunderstanding of how the internet works.
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Postby Silvedania » Fri Jan 22, 2021 4:59 pm

Ethel mermania wrote:
Silvedania wrote:That's not what it is. It's Google taking from the sources and showing the answer right there. This is seen in this example that I have posted the URL to because NS cannot verify its dimensions.
https://imgur.com/a/bP2hQyv
Many of those companies rely on ad money, which they are not benefitting from when the info they are hosting is just there for people to see on google. Without this money, those websites will run out of money and not be able to even host that information in the first place.


That is not the complete article, it is just a tease of it, so the person viewing knows whether they want to click through.

This attempt of taxation is a fundamental misunderstanding of how the internet works.

No, but its giving them what people need, and often times, they do not need to click on the actual website since the answer is there. The tease below each link
https://i.imgur.com/roJDyDy_d.webp?maxwidth=760&fidelity=grand
is not what they are being sued over.
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NS Stats are mostly accurate except for a few things, like this nation is capitalist and the death penalty isn't in effect

News:All trade with Crabaiaia and Pikala has stopped as diplomats meet in Trenaka.  Silvedanians are confused by Quentin Tarantulatino's new film, Seasonal Snackbox(This is a Bojack Horseman reference.) Weird song goes viral for making no sense.

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Postby Ethel mermania » Fri Jan 22, 2021 5:01 pm

Silvedania wrote:
Ethel mermania wrote:
That is not the complete article, it is just a tease of it, so the person viewing knows whether they want to click through.

This attempt of taxation is a fundamental misunderstanding of how the internet works.

No, but its giving them what people need, and often times, they do not need to click on the actual website since the answer is there. The tease below each link
https://i.imgur.com/roJDyDy_d.webp?maxwidth=760&fidelity=grand
is not what they are being sued over.

Sued?

I thought we were talking about the bill being proposed in Australia?
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Silvedania
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Postby Silvedania » Fri Jan 22, 2021 5:02 pm

Ethel mermania wrote:
Silvedania wrote:No, but its giving them what people need, and often times, they do not need to click on the actual website since the answer is there. The tease below each link
https://i.imgur.com/roJDyDy_d.webp?maxwidth=760&fidelity=grand
is not what they are being sued over.

Sued?

I thought we were talking about the bill being proposed in Australia?

Originally a court case
I believe
Last edited by Silvedania on Fri Jan 22, 2021 5:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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NS Stats are mostly accurate except for a few things, like this nation is capitalist and the death penalty isn't in effect

News:All trade with Crabaiaia and Pikala has stopped as diplomats meet in Trenaka.  Silvedanians are confused by Quentin Tarantulatino's new film, Seasonal Snackbox(This is a Bojack Horseman reference.) Weird song goes viral for making no sense.

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Postby Ethel mermania » Fri Jan 22, 2021 5:07 pm

Silvedania wrote:
Ethel mermania wrote:Sued?

I thought we were talking about the bill being proposed in Australia?

Originally a court case
I believe

I dont see how a court case applies, I dont see it mentioned in the OP.

So I am talking about a very bad bill which shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the internet. One of the articles in OP quotes the fellow who invented the web page saying the exact same thing.
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Postby The Two Jerseys » Fri Jan 22, 2021 6:11 pm

Ethel mermania wrote:You would think the papers in question would be happy for the link. They make money from their advertisers paying for the eyeballs gotten from those links.

Google will just stop their webcrawler from browsing Australian sites and those sites and will disappear from the Googleverse.

That's exactly what I was thinking, Google is basically acting as their tout for free.
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Postby Oscana » Fri Jan 22, 2021 6:27 pm

The Two Jerseys wrote:
Ethel mermania wrote:You would think the papers in question would be happy for the link. They make money from their advertisers paying for the eyeballs gotten from those links.

Google will just stop their webcrawler from browsing Australian sites and those sites and will disappear from the Googleverse.

That's exactly what I was thinking, Google is basically acting as their tout for free.


But part of the legislation is that Google CAN'T opt out.
They are forced to link to the news sites.
They are forced to pay some amount for those links.
They are forced to pay what some arbitrator decides.

Can you imagine trying to run a business with that model?

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Ethel mermania
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Father Knows Best State

Postby Ethel mermania » Fri Jan 22, 2021 6:28 pm

The Two Jerseys wrote:
Ethel mermania wrote:You would think the papers in question would be happy for the link. They make money from their advertisers paying for the eyeballs gotten from those links.

Google will just stop their webcrawler from browsing Australian sites and those sites and will disappear from the Googleverse.

That's exactly what I was thinking, Google is basically acting as their tout for free.

I have no love for Google, but URL's buried into html pages is the whole point of the interweb.
The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion … but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.

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SKM
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Postby SKM » Fri Jan 22, 2021 6:38 pm

As an Australian, fuck Google. Everyone with half a braincell and the ability to read knows how evil that fucking American monopoly is. Australia is far better of without fucking Google, Facebook, and the evil social fucking media. We could be an example to the world about how much better a nation is without the evil influence of Google and friends. Google has no right to use Australian journalism and not pay, nor throw a temper tantrum and expect us to take heed. Good call ScoMo.

(In a French accent:) I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal-food-trough wiper. I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!
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Intaglio
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Intaglio » Fri Jan 22, 2021 6:39 pm

Silvedania wrote:
Intaglio wrote:I stand with Google here; it's ridiculous for them to expect Google to have to pay just to link their articles. I don't see any other kind of site expecting search engines to pay them just for links.

That's not what it is. It's Google taking from the sources and showing the answer right there. This is seen in this example that I have posted the URL to because NS cannot verify its dimensions.
https://imgur.com/a/bP2hQyv
Many of those companies rely on ad money, which they are not benefitting from when the info they are hosting is just there for people to see on google. Without this money, those websites will run out of money and not be able to even host that information in the first place.

But Google doesn't always do that; sometimes the answer isn't complete, so you have to go to the site anyway. And, in my personal experience, the teaser sometimes peaks my interest enough to actually go to the site. And how much ad money are they really losing from the teasers?

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Ethel mermania
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Postby Ethel mermania » Fri Jan 22, 2021 7:24 pm

SKM wrote:As an Australian, fuck Google. Everyone with half a braincell and the ability to read knows how evil that fucking American monopoly is. Australia is far better of without fucking Google, Facebook, and the evil social fucking media. We could be an example to the world about how much better a nation is without the evil influence of Google and friends. Google has no right to use Australian journalism and not pay, nor throw a temper tantrum and expect us to take heed. Good call ScoMo.

People with half a brain cell know linking is how the world wide web works.
The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion … but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.

http://www.salientpartners.com/epsilont ... ilizations

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