Paying publishers to de-index content from Google not Microsoft’s ‘focus’

Two weeks ago, Rupert Murdoch made waves when he announced plans to pull his News Corporation content from Google and give Microsoft sole rights to articles from his online publications. According to a Nov. 24 article in the Financial Times, Murdoch seemed to be the instigator:

“Rupert Murdoch’s effort to change the economics of the internet by stopping Google linking to stories in his newspapers looks, at first glance, like an act of self-destruction. That is how News Corp’s negotiations on a deal to favour Microsoft’s search engine Bing instead is viewed by many rivals and technology experts.”

This wasn’t just another one of Murdoch’s schemes: Microsoft was offering News Corp. monetary incentive to remove articles from the Google search engine and put them up exclusively on Bing, according to a New York Times article. When the Times ran their story on Nov. 24, only anonymous sources would confirm the shady rumor. But today, Microsoft’s senior vice president in charge of online audiences, Yusuf Mehdi, released this statement:

“What I would say is, our focus is on improving the user experience and driving our differentiation of user intent and decision-making. It’s not to necessarily pay people to de-index our competition. That’s not our focus. So, I wouldn’t think of it that way. It’s more about how do we build a better experience for people. If there’s a way to share in the economics of search in that, then we’re game to do that.”

The Journal ran a more official story addressing the rumors on Wednesday, with a comment from Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s senior vice president for online services that there was “no real intent” to pay publishers to de-index from Google.

But you can only see the Journal article in a cached Google version — the real one is already behind a pay wall.

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