Google headquarters is seen in Mountain View, California, United States on May 15, 2023.

Tayfun Coskun | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Google will begin removing links to California news websites from search results for some Californians in response to a bill that would require online ad companies to pay a fee for connecting state residents to news sources.

In a blog post on Friday announcing the “short-term test,” Jaffer Zaidi, Google’s vice president of global news partnership, said the bill, called the California Journalism Preservation Act, represents “the wrong approach to supporting journalism” and “would create a level of business uncertainty that no company could accept.”

The bill was introduced last year and remains pending in the state legislature.

Google’s announcement marks the latest dramatic change in how large internet platforms handle news. Facebook parent Meta has been retreating from the news business, and said in September that it would “deprecate” its Facebook news tab in European countries including the U.K., France and Germany as “part of an ongoing effort to better align our investments to our products and services people value the most.”

Also last year, Meta banned Canadian users from sharing news on its apps after Canada’s federal government passed the Online News Act, which forced tech companies to pay content fees to domestic media outlets.

The recent developments have upended many online publishers that count on Facebook and Google for traffic and are particularly painful for publications that rely on advertising revenue.

“If passed, CJPA may result in significant changes to the services we can offer Californians and the traffic we can provide to California publishers,” Zaidi wrote.

Google also said Friday it’s “pausing further investments in the California news ecosystem, including new partnerships through Google News Showcase, our product and licensing program for news organizations, and planned expansions of the Google News Initiative.”

Supporters of the California bill say it will help news publishers receive a fair chunk of the ad profits reaped by tech juggernauts like Apple, Google and Meta. But some critics within the journalism industry worry the bill will foster a compensation ecosystem favoring larger, more-resourced newsrooms over their smaller counterparts.

Google has previously opposed similar media payment measures abroad, including in Spain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. But the company has ultimately acquiesced to the rules.

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