AMP creates more problems than anything else
When Google first unveiled its AMP project back in 2015, it had good intentions. It wanted to use these Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to speed up the transition to the mobile web, making it easy for websites to build fast and mobile-optimized pages without too much headache. Unfortunately, Google also favored sites that use AMP over those that do not, for its top-story carousel, which essentially forced almost all publications to build an AMP version of their sites. Although the Google page has gone back on this decision, AMP still exists. This is why privacy-focused browser Brave and the private search engine DuckDuckGo have decided to take matters into their own hands and block AMP on their platforms.
Brave and DuckDuckGo cite privacy issues with AMP. DuckDuckGo explains in a tweet that AMP is bad for privacy because it allows Google to track users even more. The technology will also help the company cement its search monopoly further, prompting publishers and websites to create AMP pages in hopes of better placement. Brave strikes a similar note in a long blog post, saying that AMP is bad for privacy and facilitates the monopolization of the web. AMP would also confuse users as to which site they are visiting and make them believe that they are on a publisher’s webpage when they are still on a site operated by google.com. And as stated by Google itself in a report to the DOJ, AMP comes with its own performance and usability issues that often make it worse than well-optimized mobile sites.
Good old AMP links in the carousel with the best stories
In a statement to The Verge, Google spokeswoman Lara Levin denied the allegations. AMP is an “open source framework developed in collaboration with publishers, technology companies, and Google as a way to help web content load faster” that helps publishers “create great web experiences.” Danny Sullivan, Google’s search link, makes it clear that AMP has never changed the search rankings per se and has only affected the news carousel before, but no longer. However, none of these spokespersons directly addressed the privacy concerns that Brave and DuckDuckGo shared, and presumably a site that appears in the news carousel is higher up than any other result that comes under it.
Google’s AMP technology, despite all their good intentions, was controversial from the start, and the industry seems to be moving away from them. Major publishers like Vox Media have stopped or are considering stopping delivering AMPs altogether, and Google has further emphasized AMP in the search results by removing the light bolt next to those that separated them from previously common web pages.
Brave had his own privacy issue to contend with a few years ago. The browser was found by injecting its own referral codes into links to some cryptocurrency sites, which theoretically allowed the company to see a certain amount of data about users signing up using the referral link. However, this practice has long since stopped.
De-amp is currently testing in Brave Beta and Nightly and will be enabled by default when the next version of the browser, v1.38, launches on desktops and Android. Meanwhile, DuckDuckGo has already enabled its AMP protection on its browser extensions and mobile apps.
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