Google to limit free access to news sites

News websites will now be able to limit the number of free articles they can read through Google

In a move that holds worrying implications for the future of free web content, search giant Google has announced that newspaper publishers will be able to set a limit on the number of free articles people can read via it.

Google’s ‘First Click Free’ programme had previously allowed users to read any story on newspaper websites, including content that was subscription-only, provided they searched through Google News.

Now, users who click on more than five articles in a day will be taken through to payment or registration pages. 

The move comes as media groups criticised Google for profiting from online news pages that they indexed.

Google boss Josh Cohen says, ‘Paid content may not do as well as free options… but that decision is based on the popularity of the content with users and other sites that link to it.’

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