Apr 21, 2020 - Technology

Google to make shopping listings free

Google won't charge businesses to sell goods in its Shopping section, beginning later this month in the U.S. and globally over the course of the year, the company said on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Google is trying to eliminate fees for its services to ease the burden on small businesses and publishers, two categories that rely heavily on its services and are hurting badly amid the coronavirus' effect on the economy.

What they’re saying: "Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free product listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google," Google commerce president Bill Ready said in a blog post.

Yes, but: This isn't totally altruistic. Google makes most of its advertising dollars from people engaging with media-company content on its platform or small businesses selling goods, so it makes financial sense for it to try to help out those industries in any way it can. The company has already committed millions of dollars in grants to small businesses and local news companies.

The big picture: Yelp, Facebook and others have also tried to cut fees or offer ad credits in the short term to help ease the pandemic's financial pain for their largely small-business customer base.

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Mark Zuckerberg: Social networks should not be "the arbiter of truth"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued on CNBC's "Squawk Box" Thursday that social media platforms should not police political speech, and that "people should be able to see what politicians say.”

Why it matters: Zuckerberg was responding to Twitter's decision this week to fact-check a pair of President Trump's tweets that claimed that mail-in ballots are "substantially fraudulent." Twitter's label, which directs users to "get the facts" about mail-in voting, does not censor Trump's tweets.

House Democrats pull FISA reauthorization bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

House Democrats pulled legislation Thursday that would have renewed expired domestic surveillance laws and strengthened transparency and privacy protections amid broad opposition from President Trump, House GOP leadership and progressive Democrats.

Why it matters: The failure to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) comes as Trump continues to attack the intelligence community, which he claims abused the law to surveil his 2016 campaign and Trump administration officials.

U.S. GDP drop revised lower to 5% in the first quarter

Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimated 4.8% contraction — according to revised figures released by the government on Thursday.

Why it matters: It's the worst quarterly decline since 2008 and shows a huge hit as the economy was just beginning to shut down because of the coronavirus. Economists are bracing for the second quarter's figures to be the worst ever — with some projecting an annualized decline of around 40%.

2 hours ago - Economy & Business