The return of Google News to Spain

For just over a month now Google News became available again in Spain after almost eight years. 

This is important because Google News was born in 2002 as an alternative to traditional media that were becoming increasingly obsolete due to their use of paywalls or other restrictive access policies. 

Its aim was to offer free access to digital editions of newspapers and magazines from all over the world through a simple interface that allowed users to find relevant information quickly and easily by entering keywords related to their interests.

The news aggregator also had an algorithm that allowed users to filter results based on criteria such as region or type of source (partnerships with major international media).

Find out how Google News will once again make an impact on the Spanish news landscape in our latest article.

Why did they take down Google News?

Looking back, what happened in 2014 was triggered by the Intellectual Property Law which was approved in Spain in November of that year. It established that this service had to provide unwaivable financial compensation to copyright holders for the use of their works. 

The aim of this law was to protecting the interests of publishers and authors in Spain who are harmed by the massive use of their content on digital platforms, but it has become an attempt to regulate freedom of expression and access to information on the internet.

The new law was passed on 11 April, but Google Spain has decided to close Google News in Spain on 16 June.

The technology company then decided that it was no longer worth continuing in the country and announced it on its official Google Spain blog.

The law requires any news aggregator that displays links to other sites to pay for them. It is believed that this will mostly affect small businesses that cannot afford such payments.

Google believes that the law is unfair because it does not respect freedom of expression and freedom of information. Furthermore, it is not in line with EU law and the European tradition of copyright protection because it does not allow fair use, which should be protected by law.

It has now returned, as last year Spain adapted its law to the European framework, making it much more flexible.

How does Google News work?

Google News is a news aggregator that shows content collected from a variety of sources. It is available on the web, on mobile devices via the Android and iOS apps, and via voice commands through Google Assistant.

When you enter Google News, the search engine displays a panel where it groups content into different blocks: featured news, local news and a breakdown by category: Spain, International, Local, Economy, Science and Technology, Entertainment, Sports and Health. To analyse, identify and organise these stories, Google's algorithms use machine learning.

Google News uses many signals to decide which stories to display on its panel.The number of links to an article; The number of times an article has been shared on social networks; The number of comments on an article; The number of times the article has been shared on social networks; The number of people who have saved the article in their reading list (similar to bookmarks); The time the user spends reading an article.

The home page is a personalised landing page that appears when you log in to your account. It contains the most important news from around the world and your interests, as well as relevant announcements. You can choose how they are displayed, although in many cases this happens automatically thanks to algorithmic filters that choose one or another news item depending on what they interpret to be of interest to the user based on the data they have collected about them. For example, the media we have previously consulted, the subject of the news item or the data from our Google profile (age, location, history, interests) and the activity we have carried out on the search engine and YouTube. Once we have logged in, we can manually configure the topics we are interested in for the homepage.

The homepage also offers a menu with links to other services such as Gmail or YouTube which we can access quickly without having to re-enter our password each time.

After 8 years of absence, Google News returns to Spain. Find out the implications in our latest article

Google Showcase: What is it?

Google News Showcase allows publishers to create their own editorial line and offer exclusive content in their specific areas of interest.

This is a completely new format for the aggregator, which has never before been tested on a large scale.

If we come from a hiatus marked by the problem of mandatory remuneration, another novelty announced by Google is that it is going to pay the media through a new service: Google News Showcase.

Not yet available in Spain (Google expects it to be launched "as soon as possible"), but the aim is to pay publishers to create and select content especially for the platform. In other words, they themselves choose the content they want to appear in the aggregator. Through this selection, users will be able to have limited access to paid content at no cost.

According to Google, this selection allows for more comprehensive news coverage, as timelines can be incorporated, as well as bullet points, related stories and a list of important articles.

Differences between Google Discover, Google News and Google Showcase

Google News Showcase is an advertising service which allows media companies to display their content more prominently than usual.

The idea is that Google will pay media companies to have their content appears in the feed of users who have opted in to Google's personalised news service, Google Discover. If you have ever used the app, you already have it installed. Displays articles related to your interests (or those of others with similar interests).

If we come from a hiatus marked by the problem of mandatory remuneration, another novelty announced by Google is that it is going to pay the media through a new service: Google News Showcase.

We've just talked about Discover, another Google service that you may be familiar with even if you don't know it. You may not be aware that you've set it up, but if you swipe the home screen of your Android phone to the left to see a news page, you're using Google News. This is a Google service that shows you content based on what its automation systems think you are interested in.. In other words, "personalised" news.

The return of Google News to Spain marks a turning point in the news landscape. Find out more in our latest article

Beware of misinformation

Google News has been a platform on which misinformation has spread due to its nature as a "news discovery" service. The service indexes content from different web portals that it considers to be classified as media. As a result, on numerous occasions disinformative content from portals such as Diario Gol has crept in, making people think that a famous person had died in its headline (a phenomenon we have warned about on Maldita.es).

In the case of News, Google assures that it will verify the data for the computer version.

This verification process is carried out by organisations such as Snopes and Politifact, among others, and will be updated and updated by will steadily improve over time. Details of exactly how it works are not known.

Google already has a specific tool for this, but it is not added to the News or Discover service (yet). 

Google News does not have a direct collaboration with fact-checkers to prevent it from becoming a vehicle for disinformation, but it does, there is an effort by Google News to make its news more reliable. 

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