Did Google Test Removing The News Tab Or Was It A Bug?

Feb 28, 2024 - 7:11 am 0 by
Filed Under Google

Google Newspaper On Fire

A week ago, I had several people notify me that the news tab in Google Search was missing. I checked using multiple browsers and devices and I saw the news tab, so I thought it was a quick bug that was resolved. Then, days later, Nieman Labs reported that Google tested removing the news tab, although I am not 100% sure if that is true.

Shameem Adhikarath on February 21 at 1:50 am ET notified me on X that he was no longer seeing the news tab and shared several screenshots, here is one of those screenshots:

Google News Tab Missing2

Sarah Scire who wrote the story on Nieman Labs also posted this screenshot on X:

Google News Tab Missing

Now, you can see from Sarah's screenshot, that this top bar and filter bar is a test. This is a Google test for a new search filter. And yes, the news tab is missing from both screenshots.

Google did send Nieman Labs a statement, which Google did resend to me - but here is the full statement unedited from Google:

The News filter is available to users now and we do not have plans to remove it. In an effort to better understand the preferences of our users, 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.

Now, I can read this two ways:

(1) Google testing removing the news tab

(2) Google was testing a new search filter and there was a bug where the news tab did not appear for some of those users in that test.

I really think the way to read it is the second way - that Google was testing a new feature, a new user experience and that test had a bug resulting in the news tab not showing up for some of those users.

I did ask Google for clarification on this statement but I am still waiting to hear back.

For some reason, I really don't think Google intentionally removed the news tab. I think it was a bug from some other test Google was trying out.

Even Google's own Search Liaison saw the bug and was surprised:

I suspect the news tab is sticking around for a while in Google Search and this was an unintended bug caused by some unrelated user interface change in the search interface.

I do not think Google was intentionally testing removing the news tab but again, Google has not responded to that specific question yet.

Either way, some data on the news tab:

Forum discussion at X.

 

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