Preview: Understand upcoming changes to news and news-related apps

Preview article (effective 1 September 2021)

This article previews changes included in our July 2021 policy updates.

The updated article provides further policy clarifications for news apps, which will be effective 1 September 2021.

To view the current ‘Understand upcoming changes to news and news-related apps’ article, visit this page.

We recently announced updates to our News policy which outlines the requirements for apps declaring themselves as News in the Google Play Console (‘News apps’).

This article provides an overview of recent changes and steps that developers can take to meet the new requirements. It is not a substitute for the policy itself; read the policy in its entirety to ensure that you understand and comply with its contents.

Overview of changes

To ensure greater clarity, Google has updated contact information requirements for News apps. This includes further clarification on information that News apps must provide in order to be listed in this category. 

Additionally, Google has provided guidance on advertising and affiliate marketing for News apps. 

We are committed to promoting transparency and greater accountability for developers that create, aggregate or share news. This does not include making judgements about the quality of the news content itself.

Requirements for News apps

With this update, News apps must be able to show clear ownership about the news publishers and contributors, and provide publisher contact information to users. This means that you, as the app developer, must display: 

  • The official website for news content published in your app (for example, mynews.com or newsaggregator.com).
  • A dedicated website or in-app page that is clearly labelled as containing contact information and is easy to find. 
    • For an in-app page, this could include a ‘contact us’ page linked in the menu page or in the site navigation bar. This page should be dedicated to the required contact information and should not include other information (for example, disclaimer).
    • For a dedicated website page, provide the link text field in the ‘News apps’ section of the Store settings page (Store presence > Store settings) in Play Console.
  • Valid and verifiable contact information for the publisher of news content in your app, including both an email address and phone number. 
  • Links to social media accounts or ‘contact us’ forms without an email address and phone number are not sufficient forms of publisher contact information. 
  • If your app aggregates news published from other sources, you must indicate the original publisher of each article. 

Google will use the information provided on the Store Listing, in the app and on the linked website to authenticate the developer. Here are a few examples of information that demonstrate valid and verifiable contact information:

  • The app home page has a ‘contact us’ link that directs users to a separate in-app page with developer email address and phone number.
  • The app’s site navigation bar has a ‘contact’ link that directs users to a web page with developer email address and phone number.
  • The app’s site navigation bar has a ‘contact us’ link that directs users to a separate in-app page with developer email address and phone number. 

If your app primarily contains User-generated content (for example, social media apps) or has the primary purpose of generating revenue through the sale of products or services, then it should not be declared as a News app within Google Play. 

Additionally, News apps that require a user to purchase a membership or subscription must provide an in-app headline, snippet, author or preview of at least one article for users prior to purchase. This update seeks to help users better understand and experience the app’s functionality before making a purchase decision. 

Lastly, authorship or contributor information should be displayed within News apps. This is to ensure that users are able to understand the source for the information being provided.

Additional notes

As per the requirements of Rule 5 of the Indian Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (Intermediary and Digital Media Rules, 2021), Google is required to inform you that, in addition to the applicable Terms of Service, publishers of news and current affairs content may be required by Rule 18 of the Intermediary and Digital Media Rules to furnish the details of their accounts on Google Play to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.

 

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