In his tirade against free news, Ruport Murdoch recently threatened to remove his portfolio of his sites from Google’s search index.
While it created a stir online, few, myself included, thought he may actually go ahead with it. Today it appears he may have done.
According to Trend Visualizor, the total number of NewsCorp pages (a sum of MySpace, IGN, RottenTomatoes, …) has today dropped from 192 million to 12 million. Although all Google web sites still indicate that e.g. MySpace has 179 million pages in the index, the Google Search API is currently returning another number for that: only 7 million.
Of course this may be a bug, something we’re contacting Google about as we speak. That said, a look back at Google’s previous API calls show very few sharp drops. Could Murdoch have found a way to drastically remove itself from Google?
Which sites are Newscorp?
Looking at Murdoch’s principle sites, the numbers are astonishing:
Myspace: from 179 mio to 7 mio
RottenTomatoes: from 4 mio to 100.000
IGN: from 4 mio to 300.000
Stats.com: from 2.4 mio to 50.000
News.com.au: from 1.2 mio to 70.000
Sky.com: from 1.4 mio to 85.000
I suspect the Fox, National Geographic, Daily Telegraph, and other sites will soon follow.
What’s strange is that it doesn’t appear as though NewsCorp used blocking agents to prevent Google accessing the site, but robots.txt files (the files that instruct Google what pages not to index show nothing). Which begs the question, how, if they have, have they done it?
We’ll keep you updated.