I’d be seriously ashamed at this point if I was a Google employee assigned to AMP.
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.
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.
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 .
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 :)
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.
"No single raindrop believes it is to blame for 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.
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.
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.
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?
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It's clear that Chrome must be separated from Google and Alphabet, nothing else will stop them from trying to colonize the web.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
“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
So ad blocking makes everything faster!
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.
From an older discussion https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25448718
Google has to be broken up.
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.
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.
Google has offices in China.
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 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 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.
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”.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
From my first post:
> but this would be a lot more convincing with the source emails entered into the record
The pdf that this page links to includes much more than two sentence fragments on the topic.
>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]"
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?
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.
I think this gives us a timestamp on when Google got there.
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.
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."
Can someone who has a better understand of legal proceedings explain what purpose these redactions serve?
wow i love when Silicon Valley literally throws away people's time. imagine the cumulative total time being wasted by this artificial delay...
our society ?->?
Unless, of course, the team leadership was on it and this was an insider job.
Whether front line engineers knew isn't that important. 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?
> 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
100% totally decentralized.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It clearly isn't only techies that dislike it so much that they actually pay to get rid of AMP.
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 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 also strips out all the crap the site's UX/UI people use to try and keep you on the site.
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".
Anyone whos usually logged in somewhere is impacted negatively
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.).
- 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