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Google Search “Web” filter takes users back to 10 blue links – no AI, no BS

In context: Google has drawn rising criticism over the added features of its search engine in recent years. As the company introduces fully AI-generated summaries of search results, it has also added a mode that strips those results down to simple web links. Some users might appreciate the gesture, but others complain that obtaining straightforward text results, like in the early days of Google, now requires extra clicks.

Google search users will soon receive a “new” option to view search results page that only displays web links, the old fashioned way. The new feature strips out the extra elements that the company has accumulated over the years like Q&As, videos, images, and the more recent generative AI “summaries.”

Users on mobile devices can view simple text links to web pages by selecting the “Web” option under the search bar. However, desktop users must first click the “More” option to see Web mode. Some might accuse Google of attempting to hide the barebones search option to promote its increasingly controversial default results page.

The new feature removes elements like excerpts, query answers, image results, and suggested questions that typically populate the top of a Google results page nowadays.

Critics assert that these features make clicking on links less necessary, thus decreasing traffic to the sites providing the information Google uses.

Furthermore, the company’s Gemini AI now delivers auto-generated summaries of search responses to users in the US. The AI-generated responses can answer complex questions and follow users through multi-step conversations to provide in-depth guidance. More countries will start seeing AI summaries before the end of the year. Google claims that, according to its testing, websites that Gemini referenced received increased traffic.

Also read: New study confirms the obvious, search results are only getting worse

Hallucination is another stubborn issue. Generative AI has become infamous for confidently outputting misinformation, and Gemini is no exception. Google’s initial presentation contained a flaw in its AI-powered video search function that could cause someone to ruin a roll of film. Some also pointed out the potential for the AI to reference other AI sources, like Quora, introducing a potentially dangerous vicious cycle.

While Google wouldn’t acknowledge that its default features annoy many users, the company admitted that a simple web search might be useful in a couple of scenarios. Google suggests that it could be used to find long-form text documents or save bandwidth when users have slow internet connections.

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