Google Search Temporarily Removes 'News' Filter: Could AI Replace It?
Google Search Temporarily Removes 'News' Filter: Could AI Replace It? AFP

The media industry was (more) unsettled last week after some users noticed that Google had removed the News tab from its search engine. The action was partial, affecting a limited amount of people, and temporary. But the question of the reason for this still raised concerns in an industry that cannot afford losing more sources of traffic and revenue.

The timing was also ominous. Google's test, conducted last week between Wednesday and Friday, coincided with the announcement that Vice News will no longer publish content in its flagship website. Once a fast-growing digital media company that gained a wide following among young readers and was worth billions, Vice also announced hundreds of layoffs as part of this decision.

Google clarified that the company was experimenting with a version of Search without a "News" filter, a feature that has been part of the engine for more than two decades.

"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 the technology specialized website Gizmodo.

According to the outlet, Google added that it was trying to understand the preferences of its users and stated that it has no intention of removing the News filter.

The company did elaborate about what Google Search will be like in the future, though some answers might be found in people's comments. Some users reported that they did not have the 'News' filter but "an AI-powered overview for this search."

In February, Google released Gemini, its premier generative AI that would slowly be integrated into Gmail, Docs, and other products. It is a new version of the AI app for smartphones, named Bard. Last Wednesday, Google also unveiled Gemini Business, expanding artificial intelligence services for its Google Workspace customers, and introduced a new generation of AI models called Gemma.

Could the IA also replace the 'News' filter? Many speculate this is the direction the company is heading; however, Search remains Google's primary revenue stream. Implementing changes to enhance searches with artificial intelligence carries significant risks for the company, as competitors could capitalize on the opportunity to offer a more conventional approach to cloud exploration.

On Friday, Google clarified that the tests that removed the News filter for some users were finished. However, the battle for dominating the AI market might raise questions about the news industry's position. While many have pondered how AI can change newsrooms, providing potentially powerful content generation tools, there may also be changes in the distribution of news.

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