Brave Protects Users from Google AMP (Updated)

Posted on April 19, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Web browsers, Google with 8 Comments

UPDATE: This article has been updated with a statement from Google. –Paul

Brave announced today that it is rolling out a new feature called De-AMP that lets users bypass Google-hosted AMP pages and navigate directly to the content’s publisher.

“AMP harms users’ privacy, security and internet experience, and just as bad, AMP helps Google further monopolize and control the direction of the web,” the Brave Privacy Team writes. “AMP pages are served from Google’s servers, though designed to look like they’re coming from the original publisher’s site.”

AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, is a non-standard subset of HTML created and used by Google, ostensibly to improve website performance, mostly via preloading. But Brave says that AMP is harmful to privacy and security, and to the web in general. It gives Google even deeper insights into which web pages people are viewing and how they interact with them. It fools users into believing that they are interacting with the original sources of content. And if offloads more and more of the web to Google servers, from which AMP pages are served.

AMP is also bad for performance and usability. “Though Google touts AMP as better for performance, internally Google knows that ‘AMP only improves the ‘median of performance’ and AMP pages can actually load slower than other publisher speed optimization techniques,’ as revealed in Google’s disclosures to the DOJ, pg. 90,” Brave notes. “In many cases, AMP is so bad for performance and usability that web users literally pay to avoid AMP.”

De-AMP is now available in Brave Nightly and Beta builds, and it will be enabled by default in the upcoming 1.38 Desktop and Android versions (and on iOS soon after).

Google has issued a statement regarding Brave’s stance on AMP.

“These allegations are misleading, conflate a number of different web projects and standards, and repeat a number of false claims,” a Google representative told me. “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.”

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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Brave Protects Users from Google AMP (Updated)”

  1. dftf

    I'm not sure I agree with the "AMP is also bad for performance [,...] and AMP pages can actually load slower [than visiting the site directly]" assessment. I nearly-always find the AMP versions do load-faster than visiting the site-directly, even in browsers where I have ad- and tracker-blockers running.

    However, AMP versions of sites often don't function correctly: they are fine if you just want to read the text on the page, but I find most interactive-elements, like embedded videos, comment-sections, charts and forms, are usually broken. So I'd also not shed-a-tear to see AMP disappear, either.

  2. Zeppelyn56

    So, the bit this article does not explain is how do I as an enthusiast engage with AMP (a term I have never ever heard of), Is it just by clicking a link from Google search?

    We are not all developers here and somethings need a little background.

    • dftf

      Many news-articles you click on in Google Search or Google News within a browser on a mobile-device will take you to an AMP version of a site: if you look at the URL, it will start something like rather-than the normal URL you'd expect for that website.

      If you have installed an app for a news site, you won't get AMP versions in there. Nor will you in any desktop-browser, unless you've installed an add-on or extension that modifies the way your browser reports itself and was to tell Google you're running on a mobile-device.

    • wright_is

      If you are on mobile, Google will automatically give you links to the AMP versions of sites, if they exists - it also prioritises AMP pages over non-AMP pages in search results; if a website doesn't have an AMP version of a page, their site will be ranked lower than a competitor with AMP versions of their pages, for example.

      Then, if somebody shares the link for the page they visited with you, and it was an AMP page, you get the AMP link as well.

      It was always a proprietary model from Google and its main aim was always to re-route traffic through Google. It has always been seen as a privacy issue, since its initial release.

      In terms of performance, many standard web pages have caught up, if not overtaken AMP in terms of loading times, as the web has moved on since AMP was released. And you get the full page to view and use.

      AMP is a very limited subset of web features - only limited JavaScript, which comes directly from Google, reduced quality images, to enable faster loading and limited CSS. Given the rich features users have come to expect these days, AMP pages often feel old-fashioned and have limited functionality.

  3. SvenJ

    My guess is Edge is immune from AMP? Am I right? Never seen or heard of, and don't use Chrome as a rule.

    • dftf

      Edge on Windows, macOS or Linux won't show AMP sites by-default no. No desktop browser should.

      If you mean Edge on Android then due to its low usage-share, Google likely just assume you're on a desktop and go to the non-AMP site. Same as for Firefox: many sites I visit in the Android version load-up the desktop version of a site, as the sites see "Firefox" or "Gecko" when the request for the page is made and so only go for the desktop site as at 0.5% share it's very-unlikely a Firefox user will ever be on a mobile-device. (On Apple devices, due to the forced use of the WebKit engine, this might not be the case there.)

    • wright_is

      Google (and other search engines) only offer AMP pages to mobile browsers. If you are browsing on the desktop, it should be very rare that you would see an AMP page being offered.

      If somebody on a mobile device sends you a link, they might very well send you the AMP version, if it exists.

  4. spiderman2

    Great! hope Edge or some extension will do the same to protect us from scroogle AMP