Google Calls Microsoft An Opportunist That Could Break The Web

Google and Microsoft have been bitter rivals for years. Most recently they have been in conflict about the way they treat news outlets and journalism.

Microsoft recently took a jab at Google, after the Mountain View, California company last month threatened to leave Australia, pulling its news content from the country. The Australian government since passed a law that required search engines and social networks to pay publishers for their content when linking to news site. 

Microsoft stepped in and told the Australian government it could provide news services via its search engine and other properties. Google reconciled with the Austrian government and stayed. 

Today, Google published a blog post accusing Microsoft of “naked corporate opportunism,” and said its recent criticism amounted to no more than a distraction.

Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs, wrote that as competition in cloud computing, search, productivity apps, video conferencing, email and other areas heats up, Microsoft is “reverting to their familiar playbook of attacking rivals and lobbying for regulations that benefit their own interests.

Walker called the claims “self-serving,” which are “just wrong” -- and wrote that Microsoft is even willing to “break the way the open web works in an effort to undercut a rival.”

Walker’s response made Smith’s written testimony seems tame.

In front of the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust Friday during a hearing, Microsoft President Brad Smith said Google has made journalism outlets dependent on its array of services -- including analytics and advertising tools -- while profiting from its content.

“While it’s important to recognize that referral traffic does have value, monetizing that traffic has become increasingly difficult for news organizations because most of the profit has been squeezed out by Google,” Smith wrote in written testimony. Google has effectively transformed itself into the ‘front page’ for news, owning the reader relationship and relegating news content on their properties to a commodity input.”

Walker also called out Microsoft for its lack of support for journalism, pointing to an article published last year that details how the company laid off “dozens of journalists and editorial workers” at its news agencies,” replacing much of its MSN staff with AI bots.

“People close to the situation said the layoffs impacted all its contractors in the US, numbering around 50, all of whom are employed by staffing agencies Aquent and MAQ Consulting,” wrote Business Insider.

When the article published in June 2020, Microsoft News reportedly pulled in photos, videos, and articles from more than 1,000 publishing partners including USA Today, The New York Times, Fox News, and Business Insider.

In 2018, Darren Laybourn, Microsoft vice president of news at the time, toldBusiness Insider that the company paid $700 million to publishers for their content during a four-year span.

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