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Google refuses to answer questions about removing Australian news sites from search results


Google has refused to answer questions on its secret trial of removing news sites from search results in Australia, with the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, saying the company should focus on paying for news, not blocking it.

Google blindsided news consumers and media outlets this week with a trial that removed Australian media outlets such as the ABC, Nine, the Guardian and others from its search results.

Users were not informed of the change, or advised how to find news articles when searching, with some reporting they initially believed it was an issue only affecting them.

People affected by the trial can get around the block by searching in a private browser window, such as in incognito mode in Google Chrome.

The move by Google came as a Senate committee is reviewing legislation that would force Google and Facebook to negotiate with Australian news media companies for a fair price for displaying local news content.

Google has argued strongly against the code since it was first announced last year, by alerting users to the proposed changes in search and in Google Chrome.

Guardian Australia put a list of questions to Google, which the company has refused to answer. Here is what we know, based on anecdotal reports from people affected and previous statements the company issued.

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