Google Tests Killing the News

The “News” tab has been a staple of Google Search for over 20 years, so when it disappeared on Wednesday, you can imagine how confused some users were. It turns out, Google was testing out a version of Search that did not include a “News” filter. The unannounced test caught many by surprise.

“We were testing different ways to show filters on Search and as a result, a small subset of users were temporarily unable to access some of them,” a Google Spokesperson told Gizmodo in a statement. Google says it was trying to understand the preferences of its users, and it does not plan to remove the News filter. Apparently, people like news.

However, the “News” tab was the only filter missing for most Google Search users. In one case, Google offered a user “an AI-powered overview for this search,” instead of a news filter. This small test could signal where Google Search is headed, as the company shoves Gemini into more of its staple products. Google broadly released Gemini earlier this month, announcing its premiere generative AI would slowly be integrated into “Gmail, Docs, and more.” Maybe “more” means replacing Google’s news filter with AI-generated content.

Google is at an inflection point as a search company. Screenshots of Google Search in the year 2001 show how the “News” filter has always been a staple feature. Now, the company is putting all its marbles behind generative AI, but it’s having a hard time figuring it out. After turning the dial on its diversity safeguards a little too high, the company paused its newly released Gemini model this week.

Meanwhile, Google announced a $60 million deal with Reddit to scrape its online communities for AI training data. The partnership will also result in “more content-forward displays of Reddit information.” This could mean more visibility for Reddit posts in places like Google Search, which may already be starting.

When you search for “Google is killing independent sites,” Google displays Reddit discussions above an actual article from HouseFresh with a nearly identical headline. This could be another indicator of what Google Search has in store in the future.

Google’s toggling of news in search results comes at a dire time for the digital media industry. On Thursday, Vice News announced it would shut down its website, lay off hundreds of staff, and transition into a “studio model.”

Google is floundering on its generative AI push, and it’s putting Google Search on the line to do so. Search is Google’s main source of revenue, but you can see with Search Generative Experience how the company wants to inject it with AI. Google could be risking everything for the sake of AI.

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