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249. The speed benefits Google marketed were also at least partly a result of Google’s throttling. Google throttles the load time of non-AMP ads by giving them artificial one-second delays in order to give Google AMP a “nice comparative boost.” Throttling non-AMP ads slows down header bidding, which Google then uses to denigrate header bidding for being too slow. “Header Bidding can often increase latency of web pages and create security flaws when executed incorrectly,” Google falsely claimed. Internally, Google employees grappled with “how to [publicly] justify [Google] making something slower.”

I’d be seriously ashamed at this point if I was a Google employee assigned to AMP.




> Google throttles the load time of non-AMP ads by giving them artificial one-second delays in order to give Google AMP a “nice comparative boost.”

That's it. Webmasters should give all visitors with a Chrome user agent a loading penalty of 1 second and a popup saying that the website runs faster on Firefox.

I said it before on HN, but the idea was condemned, and I partially agreed, but now it seems (at least to me) a fully justifiable strategy to make users win back power.


IMO Action should be taken against Google here, not the average user (about 70% of whom use Chrome).

Throttling based on user agent (Firefox, WebKit Safari, etc) would be a bad thing if you ran YouTube and wanted to encourage people to use Chrome - it would likewise be bad if you ran a website like HN.

Users have power when they have control - Google is taking that away, and that's why antitrust legislation makes sense. But users lose power when their choice of browser (in a market where there are only 2-3 choices) makes their web experience artificially worse.


Then consider the 1 second delay as an advertisement for consumer power. Google/YouTube annoys users with similar or even longer delays all the time. So I don't think you can see this as an "action against the user", unless you consider all non-user-tracking advertisements as an action against the user.

Also, the campaign can stop when Chrome and Firefox reach an equal user-base. So "the user losing freedom of choice of browser" is also not a strong argument.

Yes, it's sad that this seems necessary, but you can't fight corporate evilness with just goodwill. In a sense, this is somewhat similar to the paradox of tolerance [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance


Nice link!


> Webmasters should give all visitors with a Chrome user agent a loading penalty of 1 second and a popup saying that the website runs faster on Firefox

it's for ads:

> Google throttles the load time of non-AMP ads by giving them artificial one-second delays

so would need to limit the +1 second for ads to be equivalent, but you could just run "ads" for ad blockers instead :)


More info on 1-second delay when discussed last year:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25449389

It started as a 1-second delay for all ads, but then they found a technical way to allow for ads made with AMP to load sooner.


> I’d be seriously ashamed at this point if I was a Google employee assigned to AMP.

"No single raindrop believes it is to blame for the flood." [1]

[1] https://despair.com/products/irresponsibility


I've been screenshotting despair.com posters for over 10 years. I can't believe they're still around. I really should buy something from them someday.


This is why principles are important. Living by a well considered and thoughtful set of beliefs, secular or otherwise, has an impact on the world. Even if things look hopeless, your actions contribute to the way life unfolds for everyone else. Even if things look trivial, not engaging in minor infractions against your beliefs is withholding that single drop from the flood.

I won't ever use tiktok, and speak against it to friends and family when questioned. I support the use of Signal and promote basic digital literacy, lending my time to help people learn about encryption and protecting their personal information, even in seemingly trivial things like not playing quiz games on social media.

I don't believe in a monolithic big brother spying on individuals, but there is a collective impact of all of those systems, if which Google Amp plays a big part. It normalized the idea that centralizing the gateways to content was a good thing, regardless of Google's intentions. It usurped control of a minor piece of web functionality that gave Google a big competitive advantage.

People have been commoditized by getting them to give up private data without understanding what it is they're giving up. At a very basic level, you could look at Facebook - they have 3 billion members and make 30 billion dollars a year - someone's data is worth $10usd per year on average. Similar valuations can be applied to other companies, but Google is getting around $150 billion a year for advertising. If you could assign a weight to people, some would be worth far more than others, and even entirely boring and innocent profiles are damaging to consumers, because they're providing baselines that enable further and more nuanced manipulation.

It's such an insidious and subtle injury to society that getting people to even notice litigation like this suit is difficult. Getting them to care, when the attitude of "I've got nothing to hide" is hugely demoralizing to people who do care.

Gross anticompetitive actions are a part of the problem, but the reckless use of algorithms that influence exposure to information, its context, and its timing is a huge, hairy deal, but even amongst techies it's hard to communicate why.

We are collectively wireheading in a way the majority of humans don't have the knowledge or education to recognize as dangerous. The knock-on effects are sometimes many degrees of separation from any single company's actions or behavior, and there doesn't have to be a human in the loop for the algorithms to poison the future of a society.

The agency of individuals is stolen by systems like Amp - a drop in the digital flood that is drowning liberty and sovereignty. It creates a system that gets abused for profit or politics or ideology. It reinforces the arms race in surveillance technology, but a vast majority of people are content with the idea that they have nothing to hide, not realizing that they are choosing to grant control over the information they will be allowed to consume anywhere within the ecosystem they engaged with.

FAANG's actions subtly influence the behavior of billions of humans. Innocuous and trite misbehavior on their part gets amplified far beyond what anyone would predict, and we have almost nothing in human history to measure against. These institutions have to be held to a higher standard, and societies all over the world must work to make private information a resource entirely and absolutely controlled by the user.


It always blows my mind seeing the things people who work at google/fb are willing to "walk out" / "protest" over, and then these insidious things they're willing to just sit back and let happen.

When I moved to the bay area working at FB/Google was something I held in high regard and was a career goal of mine. Now I get hit up by recruiters from them often... and I don't message them back. It hurts thinking about how much money I leave on the table by not working there, but I just don't think if I could live with myself if I became a contributing member of their dystopian nightmare machine.

It all starts with the people who work there. If you work at google or facebook, you're part of it. You're culpable. It's not like I don't understand the calculus and not like the right dollar amount wouldn't corrupt my position as well, but I wish more people were honest/forthright about it. You're a storm trooper.


> It always blows my mind seeing the things people who work at google/fb are willing to "walk out" / "protest" over, and then these insidious things they're willing to just sit back and let happen.

symbolic action is always easy. but you're asking them to strike (refuse to work) in response to unethical demands, without the collective backing of their peers, in an industry that views union activity with - at best - suspicion or outright derision. we all like to fancy that we'd be the ones to refuse to play along but the reality is that when it's you and your job and you're facing the possibility of not paying rent or eating food after being blacklisted from the industry in response to your actions...

don't judge the people who are doing what they have to in order to survive. they were compelled by people who had leverage over them and our ire should be for those people.


> but you're asking them to strike (refuse to work) in response to unethical demands, without the collective backing of their peers,

We are not talking about some poor sod blue collar worker here. We are talking about techworkers with 6 figure salaries who can get a job anywhere. No one is asking them to start some movement. They can simply think: "I don't want to be a part of this", leave the job and get a new job that same day.

> don't judge the people who are doing what they have to in order to survive. they were compelled by people who had leverage over them and our ire should be for those people.

Tech workers with 6 figure salaries who can get a job pretty much anywhere they like are doing these things to survive? Seriously...? Google had leverage over these people? How?


Bullshit.

How many minimum wage employees does Google have in the Bay Area? We’re talking about a class of six figure employees here.

Like he said, you’re a storm trooper, just own it.


They're creating an infrastructure of manipulation because of the collective impact of the industry within the current legal context of international privacy protections. Any individual project or feature can look trivial or harmless, like manipulating the order of articles in a feed, but the systems used to do it are mechanisms implicitly susceptible to bad incentives.

They're collectively pressing buttons and breaking things in the global psychology, influencing the zeitgeist in a way that no one person or company intends. Obama's campaign was the first major successful political use of that infrastructure and there's an argument to be made that Trump's election was enabled by it. Cambridge Anallytica exposed some of the controls and showed a portion of what can be done, but we haven't seen the worst yet. International troll farms, the recent infiltration of Christian and BLM Twitter and reddit, and so on.

When people are profiled by advanced algorithms, and access to people given based on those profiles, that access can be made completely transparent using deanonymizing methods through data from other sources. Any and every platform, forum, and community becomes exposed to hostile, unintended influence.

We need outsized fines that protect private data as if it were sacred such that a trillion dollar company would fear even a single violation. Such that violating privacy would result in individuals going bankrupt or prison time. Such that physically bombing a foreign datacenter would be seen as reasonable recourse if they were uncooperative.

There are things that no government or private organization should have absent the informed consent of users because of the implicit danger to society's basic functioning.


I work in big tech

I selected all my previous companies because they seemed to have a worthy mission from the outside. Each disappointed me immensely. At startup scale you have to see the sausage be made or at least sit next to it.

I know big tech companies have too much power because every other company I’ve worked at would be most accurately described as an unscrupulous Rube Goldberg machine for moving money from VCs to ads+cloud.

Do what works for you, but don’t be so sure you’re engaging in a “better” way with this late-capitalist hellscape. I feel so much better aligned getting paid by big tech to build cool tools for engineers than I did getting paid to knife fight for their scraps.


> than I did getting paid to knife fight for their scraps.

Seriously, cut the drama. Amazon fulfillment workers can say they are "getting paid to knife fight for their scraps.". There is no way that statement needs to apply to tech workers.

It sounds as if you are forgetting there is a world outside silicon valley, startups and fortune 500 companies. In most countries SMB's account for almost 50% of the economy.

> I feel so much better aligned getting paid by big tech to build cool tools for engineers

Well thats actually an honest statement; You want money, cool toys and these outweigh any moral concerns with big tech.


At one company I was asked to make demos of things that didn’t work and never would. I listened to the ceo lie to the faces of law enforcement and gov bigwig potential customers as they paraded themselves around the room behind us, watching the tech geniuses work their magic. I witnessed junior employees get screamed at routinely, more or less for being junior.

The company before that overrode all engineering complaints and implemented call to cancel because it made money. My boss had to do it himself.

Both companies competed in a way not unlike a knife fight, meaning throw ethics out the window and pull every lever you can think of. Both had very few happy customers, and rolled every penny into ads and cloud spend, operating at a sickening loss despite locking b2b customers into large monthly contracts.

This is my experience in the industry. The company before that didn’t even pay me and jerked me around about options that weren’t worth anything anyway.

Your response seems quite uncharitable. I mentioned getting paid on both sides, so yes it’s important. I would like to retire some day and live in modest comfort until then. I have young children and happily live in the sf bay.

I said nothing about cool toys. I like that I get to work on a passion project that will likely be open source some day. I like that my customers are engineers and that they chat with me directly.

Generally speaking, if a company isn’t doing every legal (and possibly illegal but unlikely to be enforced) thing to gain competitive advantage, it will be out competed. It is the responsibility of the government to keep the laws up to date.

Companies are not good. They can sometimes be owned by people who are willing to sacrifice profits for warm fuzzy feelings, but that’s an unstable position that will be corrected when ownership changes.

I feel secure knowing I work for a company that turns a large profit and has already pulled all the levers available to them to make more. Less nasty surprises that way.


The problem is that "worthy mission" is incompatible with being a public company for the most part. Once your mandate is not profitability but growth, some cohort of people at the company will push for that growth in ways that others think is unacceptable, and they will hide these programs because they know some will objects and those that would object are incentivized from all sides and from themselves to not want to see them.

Private companies have a much better chance of actually following those missions(at least if not struggling). At a minimum, not as many incentives are aligned against you.


Incredibly powerful summary of a dismal state of affairs. How did it come to that?

I feel we are massivelly overrating the level of governance, competence and ability to manage our overall "success" as modern societies

This was already quite evident with the financial crisis and came down as a hammer with the pandemic crisis and the ultimate dead-end of the climate crisis.

The denerate, dystopic, digital universe we have evolved into is not perceived as a systemic crisis. Massive data breaches are normalized. The obvious manipulation and influence of political processess the world over are shrugged off. The feudalization of economic life is portrayed as desirable "disruption". But it is really a slow moving car crash and there is no indication we have mechanisms to steer away from the deterministic outcome.

Ironically, it is almost certain that better governance would have to be based on suitable digital tools and networks. There is an alternate Philip K. Dick universe out there but we need some magic quantum tunnel to get to it.


Just wait until Facebook cracks the tech needed to mediate all person-to-person interactions via VR/AR. We are in big trouble if nothing changes.


This is a longer way of saying “A man has to live by a code”. Sadly that’s very rare these days :(


That was beautifully put. You articulated what I think a lot of have been feeling but have a hard time putting into words.


They're also pushing for the adoption of Signed HTTP Exchanges, with several Google employees defending the spec here on HN, comparing it to be merely like HTTPS in terms of publishers giving up control over their content.

It's clear that Chrome must be separated from Google and Alphabet, nothing else will stop them from trying to colonize the web.


equating it to be merely like HTTPS in terms of publishers giving up control over their content.

Where did you read that? I was under the impression that SXG is more similar to things like IPFS, where you can have content signed by its origin (or in IPFS, content addressed by its hash). Once that is achieved, any other site (e.g. a CDN like Google or Cloudflare) can cache and serve it securely and with authentication.

You can sign whatever content you want with SXG, it isn't limited to AMP.


> It's clear that Chrome must be separated from Google and Alphabet, nothing else will stop them from trying to colonize the web.

Or advocate for open alternatives, use Firefox, and make sure any site you build (or you build at work) work perfectly in non Chrome browsers.


The real problem is that Google/Chrome basically run the internet. If Google decides to change some internet standard, Firefox and web developers all follow suite like lemmings. It's like Google has become the authoritative leader in web without any sort of process or watchdog. Aside from getting people off of Chrome, the other need is to get people to stop following Google's leadership on all things web.


> The real problem is that Google/Chrome basically run the internet.

Only because we let them. We gave them web domination, we the nerds told everyone and their mother to install Chrome so they do out of habit now.

We sit and watch while Google bend the web to their will with AMP and dozens of non standard specs everyone hurriedly tries to support while we come up with excuses like "it faster", "the dev tools in chrome are better".

Without a monopolistic marketshsre we give them they can't do this as easily.

Go install Firefox and make it your default browser. Or just carry on using Chrome and wonder why Google keep getting away with doing antisocial, anti consumer shit.


> If Google decides to change some internet standard, Firefox and web developers all follow suite like lemmings.

This works because they have such a large market share. It's a chicken/egg problem. Switching to Firefox is the best most of us can do to achieve the goal of "getting people to stop following Google's leadership on all things web."


> Or advocate for open alternatives

Yes, supporting other browsers is a given, but did you want to say "and advocate"? Advocating for alternatives alone will achieve close to nothing when you are faced with a cartel, regulatory action is desperately needed in this industry.


In case anyone reading is unaware Google already inserts artificial delay into page loading times, to allow for header bidding. Online advertising proponents would argue this delay is below human perception. But the perceptibility of the wait should be for users, not Google, to decide; it is artifical and undisclosed delay, for the benefit of advertising. If users were told about it and could avoid it, no doubt they would. As we can see, artificial delay can be used as an anticompetitive measure.

These tactics, similar to deliberately introduced incompatibilities or performance differences, are old hat. For example, through the 90's, third party software for Windows never ran as smoothly as software issued by Microsoft. It was not the same "user experience". So long as this sort of conduct remains "legal", these companies interpret that as permission to engage in it.


So much software is too slow today. I don't think developers remember that users will not perceive your software as instant if you don't get the result in 100ms.

I cancelled my evernote subscription because it is too slow to start up. If I need to access a note on my phone, I don't want it to take perceived time, because then I have to go through the effort of remembering what I am trying to write.

I have switched to Apple notes, which seem to get this.


At two large tech companies I worked for, people loved to throw around the term “blink of an eye!” to justify anything around 100ms

“Oh, that’ll load in the blink of an eye! Only as much latency as the blink of an eye!” etc

It was damn frustrating to try and explain to these clowns that things look like crap if you pile up 2+ blinks of an eye on top of them. In the case of VR, even one “blink of an eye” is about 10x too much delay


> it is artifical and undisclosed delay, for the benefit of advertising

So ad blocking makes everything faster!


> Google already inserts artificial delay into page loading times, to allow for header bidding.

How does this allow for header bidding? Anything needed could be done in page or with a connection that delays the response until some condition is met.

The browser adding an artificial delay seems like it's just a way for the browser to control the process, and when the browser is controlled by an ad network, that makes me very suspicious as to the motives for an artificial delay.


Is this delay on the HTML page being served? Or on the associated (ad-loading) scripts?


“The design of it was discussed in https://github.com/ampproject/amphtml/issues/3133. It wasn't done nefariously. AMP prioritizes the page content and verified elements first over non-AMP content (including non-AMP ads).”

From an older discussion https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25448718


Good grief. AMP always looked fishy, but to be as blatantly abusive as this? It's indefensible.

Google has to be broken up.


It's sort of amazing how people are boosting this lawsuit up to the front page of HN dozens of times over three days, without really seeming to grasp that it is one side of a civil law suit, and that anyone would be a fool to take a filing like this at face value. It's a little thin on evidence, don't you think?

Normally when the attorneys general of Kentucky and South Dakota put their heads together about something, the rest of us point and laugh. But when they put together a document that looks like the top 1000 most-unhinged HN comments from users like `ocdtrekkie`, critical thinking gets thrown under a bus and it's 100% pure credulity.


Newcorp and the other media's anti google campaign has worked flawlessly. Even techies boarded the train and now think Google is worse than Microsoft or Apple. At worst Google is as bad as Microsoft or Apple if all the things the articles accuse them of is true.

I don't work for Google nor own Google stocks, but among the things I am afraid of Google using its position to capture a bit too much of the ad-market is among the least of those, and that is ultimately what all these accusations boils down to. User data is for ads, these anti-competitive practices are for ads etc. If ads is the peak of their evil then I'd say they aren't terribly evil.

Google's biggest sin was to sit in the way of news media profits, that caused a barrage of articles written by news media companies targeted at them. I'd say that is evidence of news media being evil, not Google being evil.


Secretly colluding in backroom deals to intentionally hamstring privacy protections seems pretty unambiguously... bad? Can you explain how anything Microsoft or Apple has done has worse implications for society?


Both Microsoft and Apple happily collaborates with CCP, that is a big one that Google still doesn't do. Then both Microsoft and Apple often performs huge patent litigations for nonsense patents they spam, Google doesn't. Both Apple and Microsoft uses their industry dominance to push their own products and push others products out of the market, Google does that as well but before it seemed they didn't do it at the same rates, but this lawsuit would put Google at roughly the same level of Microsoft and Apple.


> Both Microsoft and Apple happily collaborates with CCP, that is a big one that Google still doesn't do.

Google has offices in China.


But its services aren't available in China. Both Apple and Microsoft runs services like search or appstore in China. You can't access Google search or Google appstore in China since Google refuses to hand over the related user data to CCP, both Microsoft and Apple hands over that data to CCP and works to help CCP censor its critics.

I agree that the "don't be evil" part of Google has mostly run out, but some of the effects are still there or Google would already be operating in China just like Apple or Microsoft. So until they do operate services in China I'll say that they aren't more evil than Microsoft or Apple who do operate services in China.


My point is that if they're allowed to operate in China, then they have to bend to the will of, and collaborate with, the CCP if they want to remain there.


But the argument is evilness. That is a problem, but I don't see how that makes Google more evil than Apple or Microsoft that has already bent to the will of CCP with seemingly no complaints.

My argument is basically: Over the past 10 years Google has made great strides towards becoming as evil as a typical big corporation. They are about there today, not sure if they are there or just soon to be, but they are certainly not significantly more evil than the other big corporations.


> Apple or Microsoft that has already bent to the will of CCP with seemingly no complaints.

Apple certainly gets complaints for their cooperation with the CCP and for their CCP-sponsored censorship in China, HK, and abroad. You can search my HN comments on Algolia and see that I've complained about it plenty of times before.


Sour meta comments are boring, especially when they rope in unrelated personal beefs you have with individual users like ocdtrekkie. That was a little much.

Consider posting something like https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28977462, which inspired a lot of sub comments and a good on topic discussion, vs yours, which produced “haha Kentucky and South Dakota”, “Microsoft/Apple bad”, “gigantic evil news cabal”, and “HN is dumb”.


People are being awfully credulous of two sentence fragments quoted in an editorial paragraph. Much of this could certainly be true but my bullshit meter is going off on the level of narrative they're reconstructing in all the non-quoted portions.

I dislike AMP because the UX is bad and Google strong armed it in the news carousel anyways instead of focusing on performance for all sites, but this would be a lot more convincing with the source emails entered into the record.

edit: and this is just talking about ad content, right? Unless somehow a publisher made their entire page blocked until the page's ads load, throttling the load of ads would just make the ads load slower. And from what cletus quotes in another comment:

> To respond to the threat of header bidding, Google created Accelerated Mobile Pages (“AMP”), a framework for developing mobile web pages, and made AMP essentially incompatible with JavaScript and header bidding. Google then used its power in the search market to effectively force publishers into using AMP.

Is the claim that ads in AMP pages don't run javascript or do header bidding and so are "fast", but javascript and header bidding isn't inherently slow so Google could have made them faster (and/or not intentionally throttled)? I've never worked much with ads so maybe someone with knowledge of header bidding can comment.


> People are being awfully credulous of two sentence fragments quoted in an editorial paragraph. Much of this could certainly be true but my bullshit meter is going off on the level of narrative they're reconstructing in all the non-quoted portions.

This is not an editorial document, it’s a legal complaint by the Attorneys General of 17 U.S. states and commonwealths demanding a jury trial (among other things). The allegations are unproven at this point. The demanded trial process (discovery, examination, etc.) is what will provide the evidence.

One way or another though, we’re going to see if all of these claims are true. It just will take some time.


> This is not an editorial document, it’s a legal complaint by the Attorneys General

It's definitely both, they know their audience is not limited to the court. Performative filings by attorneys general happen all the time, and being able to set the narrative and put the other party on the defensive is absolutely part of this process, for good or bad.


>This is not an editorial document, it’s a legal complaint by the Attorneys General of 17 U.S. states and commonwealths demanding a jury trial (among other things).

While I agree that Google is anticompetitive, I don't think that specific detail gives as much weight as you think it does (or indeed should). The courts have had a notoriously bad history with understanding tech, and being part of a formal legal process is only weak evidence that a complaint has merit.


I don't think that was necessarily meant to convey weight towards a position of belief, but instead to just clarify the situation. They immediately followed up with "the allegations are unproven" and "we'll eventually see".


Bullshit meter?

It seems to me this is yet another validation that Google is an ad sales company hell bent on preventing competition, controlling the market and lying to end users and integrators. All of these pieces are adding up - what was conjecture is finally being validated and I, personally, believe that Google is not in it for the good of the customer, but are only in it for a profit. Death to Google by thousands of cuts like this? Game on.

I've said it before, sales organizations only base performance on profit. It is the toxin that defines all of this misbehaviour. Nobody "thinks" they're doing anything wrong because it's talked about as benefiting the shareholder. Google isn't immune to this.


> It seems to me this is yet another validation

That's just what I mean. There's a tiny amount of validation and a lot of rhetoric. It would be preferable to be able to see the actual sources they're quoting from.


Just because the floodgates haven't opened with all of the insight you may want doesn't mean it's not valid - re: "bullshit meter".

Google has an army of the best in legal and part of their play is limiting this information from ever being seen. I'm curious, what would be enough validation to pass your sniff test? And are you saying you think this is being overblown?


> I'm curious, what would be enough validation to pass your sniff test?

From my first post:

> but this would be a lot more convincing with the source emails entered into the record

:)


That's what discovery is for. You don't usually see evidence like that in the initial filings.


Validation? What else you want validated as I can whip up a doc with some claims about things without source/proof too.


>"People are being awfully credulous of two sentence fragments quoted in an editorial paragraph."

The pdf that this page links to includes much more than two sentence fragments on the topic.


But not the documents these quotes come from, as far as I can tell.


I agree, but this seems pretty typical for an initial filing. They don't typically show all their cards. So snippets like:

>Internally, Google employees grappled with “how to [publicly] justify [Google] making something slower.”

Could be more, or less interesting, when the actual source document is published.

There's some more detail in a highly redacted document here: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/sites/default/files/ima...

"In Google’s words, the [redacted] program [redacted]. Next, Google tried to come up with other creative ways to shut out competition from exchanges in header bidding. During one internal debate, a Google employee proposed a [redacted]. A second employee captured Google’s ultimate aim of destroying header bidding altogether, noting in response that [redacted]"


> A second employee captured Google’s ultimate aim of destroying header bidding altogether, noting in response that [redacted]

So from a probably naive view, getting rid of header bidding seems like it would be faster, not slower. Is the assertion being made that it isn't faster and it just so happens to also enrich the ad network?


Yes, you're right. It's faster not to have it, but that puts publishers at a disadvantage...Google reaps more revenue and gives less in return if it doesn't exist. Header bidding is often estimated to improve revenue by 10% or so for publishers.

The sequence was first employee probably said something like "make it slower if they aren't on AMP", and the second employee made some kind of suggestion to kill it altogether.


If you need to keep revenue graphs going up and to the right, because that's the primary KPI your unit is judged on, at some point it's technically easier to handicap competition than improve your own offering.

I think this gives us a timestamp on when Google got there.


It does seem like the GOOGL shareholder expectation of compounded perpetual YoY revenue gains of > 25% leads to bad places. The YoY growth of end users is much smaller. Something like 5%. So at some point, the inflated expectations have to mean a dirty playbook.


> It does seem like the GOOGL shareholder expectation of compounded perpetual YoY revenue gains of > 25% leads to bad places

Yeah it seems bizarre that they would try to hold on to that big of growth and not moderate it if this is the method to get it because there's no way it can be sustainably grown for long, but I guess if you're a VP only focused on this quarter's goals and the bonus you'll get out of it, it doesn't really much matter if growth craters a year or two out. You can cash out long before then.


Well, and nobody normally wakes up and says "I'm going to bend the law really hard and create a potential PR disaster, just because."

They do often say "My bonuses are tied to growth, and my management is putting extreme pressure on me to deliver something that's impossible, and I don't see any way of delivering it in the expected time... so I'm going to do it the only way I see."



>Or more accurately, the analogy would be if [redacted] were a monopoly financial broker and owned the [redacted] which was a monopoly stock exchange.

Can someone who has a better understand of legal proceedings explain what purpose these redactions serve?


> The speed benefits Google marketed were also at least partly a result of Google’s throttling. Google throttles the load time of non-AMP ads by giving them artificial one-second delays in order to give Google AMP a “nice comparative boost.”

wow i love when Silicon Valley literally throws away people's time. imagine the cumulative total time being wasted by this artificial delay...


our time -> their money. our identity -> their money. our whereabouts -> their money.

our society ?->?


their business.


I’m on my phone so I can’t find it now, but I remember an elaborate GitHub or chrome dev thread where users and google devs explored the 1 second delay in depth, and a reason for it relating to an issue where some ads could break or fail to load without the delay. Not sure how legitimate my memory is, but I recall folks on hn defending it at the time.


Wow, I feel naive now for defending AMP providing better user experience. As it turns out, Google is evil and I simply did not want to believe it.


It's crazy to me that the team dedicated to AMP had no control and awareness of any schemes were pulled behind their back. This is such a huge org problem.

Unless, of course, the team leadership was on it and this was an insider job.


If the allegations are true, they knew exactly what was happening and even took steps to make it seem like Google was not in full control of AMP.

Whether front line engineers knew isn't that important. AMP Leadership definitely did.


> AMP Leadership definitely did.

did they though? couldn't this be a small (artificial delay) library injected server side by some higher ups at Google?


See page 90:

> Google ad server employees met with AMP employees to strategize about using AMP to impede header bidding, addressing in particular how much pressure publishers and advertisers would tolerate.


thank you for finding (and posting) this.


I guess that depends: do we believe that AMP developers and leadership did this, possibly misguided by a promise from on high of “don’t worry, this is normal,” or do we believe that higher-ups were doing secret development work that went unnoticed by everyone else?

I think it’s easier to believe that the AMP team was simply naive, or willfully blind to the implications, or they didn’t care (probably all 3; teams are big enough that there’s room for all).


There were people defending AMP? Everything I've heard about it was backlash


AMP was a historical irritant for me, and I do recall the tide turning over time. It was initially hard to criticize it here without your comments being downvoted pretty hard. There were a set of defenders that believed it was solely about page loading time, and that any "trojan horse" accusations were from conspiracy theorists.

I think part of it was that the AMP team members were active here, and seemed genuine and competent. I'm somewhat curious how much they knew. This delay thing wasn't the only terrible part of AMP. The initial banner with the [x] button that sent you back to Google was terrible. As is the still-present hijacking of swipes and back button behavior on other people's content.

I did an Algolia comment search and can see my AMP rants getting more traction over a 4 year period.

Edit: I think it also had defenders because it forced sites like news organizations to re-think their 20MB+ ad and tracker laden story pages. So it wasn't all bad.


>I think it also had defenders because it forced sites like news organizations to re-think their 20MB+ ad and tracker laden story pages. So it wasn't all bad.

This was mainly it. Modern basically-just-text-content sites are hilariously bloated and slow, and this seemed like a genuine attempt to fix it. I remember I defended it for those reasons. It didn't pan out that way, though.

Also, I definitely remember AMP critics, or at least skeptics, getting plenty of upvotes from the very beginning, I'm not sure it was that hard to criticize.


for me, amp loaded quicker and had way less shit on it that took ages to load (like videos, tracking and stupid animations)

Webdevs moaned because it restricted what they could do, which is partially why I liked it. They had to build a page that was fast, rather than fancy.

However I do see the downsides, as google owns the stack, limits your choice.


If you want something more restricted then just use RSS. It’s not centralized like AMP.


RSS only gave/gives me a headline. Its fairly rare that the entire article is available via RSS.

Also is doesn't help for dynamic search. The main situation I'm thinking of is I'm on moble searching for something thats hosted by a local news site. the AMP page generally loads in <2 seconds. The original page will take 5 megs of data, and ages to load.


How centralised is AMP in theory and in practise?


Every client everywhere donates Referrer: logs to ampproject.org, which Google run. It's another centralized web log in disguise


So it's not centralized at all in other words? Because it's an open standard that anyone can implement, both client and server, right?

100% totally decentralized.


AMP requires you load all JS assets from cdnproject.org, which is owned by Google. It is as centralized as it comes


AMP does not require any such thing. Anyone can implement the AMP cache, there are multiple existing AMP caches, and you can serve AMP without a cache, without in any way impairing the function of an AMP page.

https://github.com/ampproject/amphtml/blob/main/docs/spec/am...


https://github.com/ampproject/amphtml/issues/27546

Perhaps I'm wrong, but my interpretation of this ticket is that Google's AMP validator currently does not validate self-hosted JS, which means no special handling ("acceleration") on their search results.


4/9 of the technical steering committee are Google employees, and 3 others are from big tech platforms (Pinterest, Microsoft, Twitter)

https://github.com/ampproject/meta-tsc/blob/master/README.md


AMP does have better experience from the users perspective. The backlash is from the techies only.

I assumed that the non-amp websites were slower due to the JS bloat, I still despise what the Web pages has become, however it turns out Google wasn't a honest broker here and instead of providing a tool that helps them and the users, they provided a tool that helps them and harms the users and bullies the website owners. That's evil and drains the last bits of trust I had left for Google.


Everything about AMP is strictly worse in my experience.

In Australia, AMP pages load slower, not faster.

AMP breaks the iPhone Safari user interface, by not actually scrolling the whole page.

The URLs don't represent the actual site to which the user will navigate.

Logins break.

App-integrated links don't work properly.

And on and on.

AMP is a cancer on the web enforced by a monopoly for their own shady purposes.


On Android, Google Translate in Safari doesn't work on AMP pages which I find somewhat ironic.


> AMP does have better experience from the users perspective. The backlash is from the techies only.

This is factually incorrect: as the allegations noted, there are many cases where AMP slows page load time – it required a megabyte of render-blocking JavaScript with no fallback. I could tell which sites used AMP because they loaded slower and failed entirely if you had a less than perfect network connection — this was quite noticeable on the subway here in DC. I heard plenty of normal people complaining about it because it was a daily occurrence.

In addition to scrolling, the other thing which people noticed was that AMP broke the URL for sharing. This had several outcomes: one was that desktop users often got less usable mobile pages but the other was that it made spoofing easier because people trusted the google.com domain. This was used by fake news sites in the 2016 election cycle and at least the Russian government used it to spearphish investigative journalists.

They knew all of those risks in advance — and people accurately predicted them in 2015 – and the stated motivation was hard to reconcile with how much less work it would have taken to see the performance benefits by simply incorporating speed into search rankings at a high weight; this suggests that theories about the goal of controlling third-party ad markets were correct.


AMP had an (intentional..?) bug on Firefox for years, making it impossible to scroll in the internal page.

Luckily it wasn't a big problem, since Google also intentionally gimped the search results to an old mobile version when using Fx, so one didn't get amp links.


At this point I always assume that it’s out of malice instead of incompetence. These kinds of smaller bugs for things that work by default are just too common for Google.


Yes - Google Cloud breaks console logins for Firefox on a regular basis. They’ll eventually respond to a bug report but it’s clearly not a priority, and that can’t be intentional when tiny open source projects have much better automated testing.


> Google also intentionally gimped the search results to an old mobile version when using Fx

I guess this is my reminder to mention once again that using a Chrome useragent on FF mobile gets you better search results. It's one of the extensions you can download on FF for Android right now, in fact.


FWIW Amplosion (paid iOS extension to automatically redirect AMP pages) is quite highly ranked on the app store.

It clearly isn't only techies that dislike it so much that they actually pay to get rid of AMP.


Could be, I can't remote-sense feelings but never heard of a non-techie complaining about it. It might have become annoying when sharing though, I think they later made it harder to find the non-amp link(The AMP link looks weird, as if you are sharing the wrong URL).

Anyway, the AMP experience was a fresh breath in the world of 10-20 seconds webpage loading times. You see the lightning icon, tap it and the content instantly comes. Swipe right and left to go through the other results and everything is displayed instantly, top notch experience - especially when Googling for stuff from the news websites.


I have found AMP to be an awful experience. It messes with native scrolling physics, pages are often incomplete or straight up broken. It also disables Reader mode on iOS so I'm always forced to load the full web page anyway. Luckily iOS 15 web extensions have solved that problem.


> It also disables Reader mode on iOS so I'm always forced to load the full web page anyway.

I agree. It's one of the imperfections of the AMP. I like AMP for quickly skimming between the results and then load the original page if I find something lengthy ro read.


It's not an imperfection, it's by design. Reader mode removes ads.

It also strips out all the crap the site's UX/UI people use to try and keep you on the site.


>never heard of a non-techie complaining about it.

I think most non-techies have no idea what AMP is to begin with.

It's just, once again, "my phone is doing some annoying and unexpected shit I didn't ask for".


To me it didn’t really make much of a difference other than preventing me from easily copying the URL.


Amp gives you non logged in versions of websites.

Anyone whos usually logged in somewhere is impacted negatively


Fair. So far there are three issues pointed out here that I'm not happy with too.

To re-cap:

1) Sharing AMP links is weird, feels wrong and Non-AMP links are hard to get

2) Breaks Safari's reader mode

3) Gives sub-par experience for websites that provide better experience when logged in since the AMP version is always the non-logged-in version.

None of those are deal-breaker for me because AMP pages come as a search results and fast loading results are very valuable for me when skimming to find the right one. Once I find it, I can switch to the full version(but Google makes it harder and harder. maybe this should be 4.).


The worst of AMP prior to this story, for me, was the carousel behavior. When AMP rolled out, any story you clicked from the carousel:

- Left and right swipe events were hijacked, and sent the user to somebody else's website with a related story!

- The back button would go to Google, even if you had right or left swiped as described above...that is, non-google pages were not in the history.

Then, not just carousel pages, these applied to all AMP pages:

- A very tall banner at the top pushed your content down. It had an [x] button that would send you back to the google search rather than the expected behavior of removing the banner.

- Finding the real url was 2 clicks deep

And then just the overall weird smugness about calling it an open standard. Even though the "open standard" required including a google-owned javascript file via a <script> tag, and the validator would fail you if you didn't. You weren't allowed to host it yourself.


4) if you don’t want amp it’s an extra click (once you’ve found the non-amp link) and going back then requires two clicks


I think you may even be overselling the user experience. I feel it was objectively confusing, because it changed the default behavior of the web. A regular user would have had no idea what was going on, just that their content was in front of them, so that's nice, but what next? Are they on Google or the website? When I click a new link why does the whole website change design, is this a different website now? What is going on.


It happens. Just make sure to remember this the next time you're tempted to assume a corporation is acting in good faith.


That’s criminal


You do have to wonder what impact this will have on the employment prospects of Google engineers in the unlikely event that it all blows up for Google. Having a toxic company on your resume is never a good thing.


It’s gonna be a long time before having Google on your resume is seen as anything but good


Not nearly as bad as Facebook.


Is FB on an engineering resume actually bad?


No, any household name megacorp on your resume is a good thing and a golden ticket to any job you want, evil or not




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