Google gives right of reply


Summary

The online search leader launched an experimental feature this week on its Google News site in the US that allows any person mentioned in a news story that is linked on that site to submit a written response.

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A Google employee then must verify the authenticity of the email.

Some methods include independently tracking down the subject's contact information and calling that person directly, or checking the author's email address and phone number against information on a company or organisation website.

If the author's identity is confirmed, the response is posted on the same page as the search results for the story.

Google pointed to several examples on the site today, including one from a McDonald's spokesman responding to a story about preschoolers preferring food wrapped in McDonald's packaging, and another from a professor at the University of California at San Francisco commenting on the importance of a new HIV treatment.

Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker declined to say how many employees are working on the project or how many responses from news subjects the company has received so far.

Feature announced yesterday

Google announced the feature yesterday in a blog posting.

"It's still early, but we're encouraged by what we've seen thus far," Mr Stricker says.

The feature helps Google's news site evolve from being solely an aggregator of news articles to a forum where news subjects – and even the journalists who wrote the stories – can respond publicly to criticisms.

The company emphasised that the feature is in the testing phase but could expand to other regions and languages.

The goal is to test the "hypothesis that – whether they're penguin researchers or presidential candidates – a personal view can sometimes add a whole new dimension to the story", Google software engineers Dan Meredith and Andy Golding say in the blog posting.

Google operates the internet's largest ad network, but far fewer people visit its news site than the one offered by chief search rival Yahoo.

In June, Google's news search site had 9.28 million unique visitors, while Yahoo's news site had 35.2 million, according to the latest data from the research firm comScore Media Metrix.


The online search leader launched an experimental feature this week on its Google News site in the US that allows any person mentioned in a news story that is linked on that site to submit a written response.

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A Google employee then must verify the authenticity of the email.

Some methods include independently tracking down the subject's contact information and calling that person directly, or checking the author's email address and phone number against information on a company or organisation website.

If the author's identity is confirmed, the response is posted on the same page as the search results for the story.

Google pointed to several examples on the site today, including one from a McDonald's spokesman responding to a story about preschoolers preferring food wrapped in McDonald's packaging, and another from a professor at the University of California at San Francisco commenting on the importance of a new HIV treatment.

Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker declined to say how many employees are working on the project or how many responses from news subjects the company has received so far.

Feature announced yesterday

Google announced the feature yesterday in a blog posting.

"It's still early, but we're encouraged by what we've seen thus far," Mr Stricker says.

The feature helps Google's news site evolve from being solely an aggregator of news articles to a forum where news subjects – and even the journalists who wrote the stories – can respond publicly to criticisms.

The company emphasised that the feature is in the testing phase but could expand to other regions and languages.

The goal is to test the "hypothesis that – whether they're penguin researchers or presidential candidates – a personal view can sometimes add a whole new dimension to the story", Google software engineers Dan Meredith and Andy Golding say in the blog posting.

Google operates the internet's largest ad network, but far fewer people visit its news site than the one offered by chief search rival Yahoo.

In June, Google's news search site had 9.28 million unique visitors, while Yahoo's news site had 35.2 million, according to the latest data from the research firm comScore Media Metrix.