Google News Drops Controversial Comment Feature

Two years after introducing a feature that allowed people quoted in news articles to comment on those stories in Google (NSDQ: GOOG) News, Google has dropped the option. A Google spokeswoman tells paidContent, “We’re always experimenting with ways to make Google News more useful. Occasionally, this means we have to re-evaluate our efforts to be sure we focus on features that make the most sense for our users.” As The Associated Press points out, the feature also cost money, since Google had to verify the identity of commenters, and as of late, Google has been in cost-cutting mode.

When the feature was initially introduced in August 2007, it generated wide debate because some argued that Google was trying to replace the traditional role of a journalist. For instance, the LA Times said in an editorial: “[Google’s] only interest is that the submissions are authentic, not that they’re relevant or even truthful. As a result, the comments section is likely to be larded with spin, hype and obfuscation.” More often than not, however, there ended up being no comments at all. Indeed, the Associated Press says the feature was actually eliminated in May when Google introduced some changes to Google News — but in a sign that it never really took off its elimination does not appear to have been widely noticed.