Here’s an explanation (*) of why I do not like the Google technology and service called AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).
Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages, aka AMP, makes websites load really fast in two ways. First, it puts some restrictions on which kind of code, scripts, plugins and so on.. you can embed in your web pages. Second, it serves those modified pages from its own servers, at least when you visit an AMP page via a Google search. Some Content Management Systems (CMS) can handle all the details more or less transparently for their authors.
AMP compatible sites appear at the top of Google’s mobile search results and load faster even on mobile devices with low bandwidth, making both their publishers and their readers happy. But…
What is the price we all pay for AMP?
With its AMP search results, Google is amassing content on its own servers and keeping readers on Google: if readers decide to share a link to an AMP page found via Google search, what they actually share is not the link to the original site, but the link to the copy of the page the link points to Google.com (for example, google.com/amp/yoursite.com/yourpage/amp), not to your site. In that sense, Google’s use of AMP is similar to Facebook’s Instant Articles service, (but harder to escape).
The real, practical consequences are (sources are linked at the bottom):
- Improved performance won’t always mean improved privacy: AMP makes even easier for Google to monitor what everybody is doing online. It also means more of the web will be shaped by Google (1)
- “A link no longer leads to an address on a domain, it leads to a one-page copy of an address, and that’s it. In fact, it actually seems to work to prevent you from visiting the actual site the link purports to lead to.” (2)
- “[AMP makes] sharing difficult. The current URLs are a mess… Make no mistake. AMP is about lock-in for Google. AMP is meant to keep publishers tied to Google. Clicking on an AMP link feels like you never even leave the search page..” (3)
Update 2018/02/05: AMP makes censorship easier?
Since all AMP pages have the same initial address, that is www.google.com/amp, it is possible to block, with just one filter, any website relying on AMP to be reachable by users with slow connections. Here is, through this tweet, one example from Egypt:
“The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project, an open source website publishing tool led by Google, was blocked in Egypt on February 2…”
- “Google’s AMP Is Speeding Up the Web By Changing How It Works” (the first part of this post mainly consists of edited quotes of this article, which gives many more details!)
- “Google AMP sucks” on Reddit
- “The Problem With AMP”