I’ve written multiple times about the value of independence from Google to Newspapers. Of course, each generated responses from many who disagreed with me. I just wanted to point out that Facebook, arguably the largest and most important website in the world has most of its content walled off from Google.
In fact, the biggest loser in the Facebook privacy debate is not Facebook, it’s Google. Why ? Because the more people that put all their status updates, information and pictures behind a wall of privacy, the fewer status updates available to google (and other search engines as well). The net result is that Google’s mission to index all the world’s information has been irreparably damaged. 500mm Facebook users and most of what they all publish to their networks is unavailable. There is probably more information being published by FB users than on blogs, and possibly even more unique content than is published by all newspapers in aggregate. Thats a lot of the world’s information that is not available to Google.
If Facebook can choose to offer no more than basic profile information and the status updates of users that opt-in, why shouldn’t newspapers do the same thing ? Offer its headlines (status updates) to Google, and then let those who want more information click through to the newspaper site. Once the user gets to their site, the newspaper can decide whether they want a login (Facebook Connect ? ahh the irony) and/or want to charge for access, or just give free and open access to the content. It’s their business decision.
Disconnecting from Google hasn’t hurt Facebook, why shouldn’t newspapers do the same thing?
But wait there is more.
There is a wholesale change occurring in how we acquire information. In the past, if we were looking for a new restaurant in our home town, the score of a game or news headlines we may do a search to get information. Now, as the commercial says, “There is an app for that”. Just download the app that lists the restaurants, points of interest, museums, news, sports scores whatever you are interested in to your app enabled device of choice. If there isn’t an app for it today, there will be. If you carry an Apple or Android (owned and offered for free by Google) enabled device just look at how your information discovery and consumption habits have changed. Do you search more or less? Do you now get information from Apps that you used to get in search results ? Of course you do.
All that information in all those apps on all those devices, as well as the discovery steps you take to get that information are all hidden from Google (at least on the IPhone and non Android platforms, which may be why Android is free and available to all in an effort to counterbalance this problem). Worse for google, with companies like Urban Airship and Superfeedr.com, more and more real time updates are being delivered exclusively to apps, independent of the device operating system and not being posted on the web.
Bottom line, Facebook and mobile apps have shown that there is life without Google, newspapers should recognize this as an opportunity and get their apps out and rethink how they make their information available to Google.