Google has admitted to 'experimenting' with burying news reports linked to media sites including News Corp and Australia's Nine Entertainment.
The moves are the latest in the search giant's campaign aimed at demonstrating that the ACCC's proposed mandatory bargaining code is "unworkable".
Both News' The Australian and Nine's Australian Financial Review have reported on what Google says is an algorithm experiment under which commercial publishers' reports are pushed down in search results.
The AFR says some users searching for content from Nine and News Corp mastheads were "being met with old stories or links to other outlets". Google says only one per cent of users are impacted, and that national broadcaster the ABC has not been included in the test. The experiments - among "tens of thousands" conducted by the search giant - are reportedly due to end early next month.
Nine commented that the "chilling" experiment made it "starkly clear" that trusted local news was critical to Google's products. The experiments showed how the impact of Google's "effective monopoly" affected Australians' access to timely, accurate and important information.
They were also demonstrating "how easily they can make Australian news providers who fall out of their favour effectively disappear from the internet - a chilling illustration of their extraordinary market power".
Google Australia managing director Mel Silva says "still relevant" submissions show concerns not only of the search giants, but also "an overwhelming majority" of others have concerns about key aspects of the code or are opposed to it. She says many issues are unaddressed by the version of the code introduced to parliament in early December.
Among publishers referenced by Silva was Victoria's Star News Group.
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