Both Brave and DuckDuckGo have taken aim at Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), either blocking Google’s tracking or allowing users to bypass AMP directly and visit the actual home pages themselves.
Brave said this week that the company is implementing a new policy, called “De-AMP,” which will rewrite links and URLs to prevent users from vising AMP pages and instead direct them to the publisher’s site. In cases where that’s not possible, De-AMP will simply step in and do the redirecting itself. The new feature is rolling out on Brave’s Nightly and Beta versions and will be enabled by default in Brave 1.38 for the desktop and Android.
DuckDuckGo took a similar approach. “When you load or share a Google AMP page anywhere from DuckDuckGo apps (iOS/Android/Mac) or extensions (Firefox/Chrome), the original publisher’s webpage will be used in place of the Google AMP version,” the company said in a Tuesday tweet.
As a publisher, a site like PCWorld.com benefits from letting Google’s algorithms push a particular story to a wide audience. But the tradeoff is similar to how an unpaid intern works for “exposure,” with someone else benefiting from their labor. Since Google serves the page, it doesn’t necessarily serve the publisher’s ads, robbing them of income, and doesn’t include all of the navigational elements that a site may provide to encourage readers to dive down further.
Browser developers like Brave also point out that serving up AMP pages lets Google host the page, format it, and decide how to frame the story. “AMP is one of many Google strategies to further monopolize the Web, and build a Web where users serve Google, instead of websites serving users,” Brave’s privacy manager, Shivan Sahib, and its senior director of privacy, Peter Snyder, have written.
Brave’s Sahib and Snyder have also noted that users aren’t served well by AMP, either; because the page is hosted by Google, users may become confused about what site they’re interacting with. Brave has also contested that Google’s AMP pages can load more slowly than other publishers’ pages.
Google, for its part, has slowly moved away from AMP to prioritize what it calls Web Stories. In December, Google also introduced Bento, a component library that allows AMP components to be used within non-AMP pages.
In a statement, Google said it disagreed with the “allegations” put forward by the other companies. “These allegations are misleading, conflate a number of different web projects and standards, and repeat a number of false claims,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “AMP is an open source framework that was collaboratively developed with publishers, tech companies, and Google as a way to help web content load faster–at the time it was created, it took 19 seconds on average to load a mobile webpage on a 3G connection. Today, AMP continues to be a helpful way for websites and publishers–especially those without large development teams– to easily create great web experiences.”
This story was updated at 5:14 PM with comments from Google.