the audit

Twitter, Facebook Get Paid. What About the Press?

October 21, 2009

So Microsoft’s Bing search engine is going to pay Twitter and Facebook to have their users’ posts show up in Bing’s search results, reports All Things Digital.

It’s unclear if that means Twitter will remove tweets from Google unless it pays up. But that’s what it looks like:

Twitter has been talking to Google (GOOG) about a similar arrangement, and, according to sources, so has Facebook.

But the deal is a definite blow to the dominant search engine, since–for the first time–data will be available on Bing that is not on Google.

So we have now a precedent that the ability of search engines to index and link to content is worth some money. Where this goes from here no one knows. But it’s possible , as C.W. Anderson says, that this could have implications for the press and its relationship with the search engines.

It also may fill in some of the blanks on what Associated Press Tom Curley was talking about recently when he mentioned the looming benefits of Microsoft bringing what hopefully will be renewed competition in the search-engine space.

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Would the AP yank its news off Google if Bing paid and Google didn’t? Would it be worth it in the lost revenue from not showing up in as many search results? That’s too early to tell. It’s unclear, too, how much money we’re talking about changing hands with Facebook and Twitter.

And it’s worth noting that Bing is an also-ran compared to Google. But if it’s able to differentiate itself with strategies like these and gain market share, it could force Google to come off those fat profit margins a bit and share some money with content creators.

For people, including me, who’ve been wondering how Twitter will make money, here comes part of the answer.

More importantly, if tweets are worth money to a search engine, why isn’t the news? This will be worth watching.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR’s business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.