A PYMNTS Company

Google Faces Backlash Over Introduction of AI-Generated Summaries in Searches

 |  May 16, 2024

Google has announced plans to implement AI-generated summaries into its search engine, a feature named “AI Overviews,” sparking considerable controversy. Prominent advocates warn that this decision could have “catastrophic” consequences for publishers and content creators who heavily rely on search engine traffic for revenue.

Unveiled during Google’s annual I/O conference, the AI Overviews feature aims to provide users with automatic answers to complex queries, effectively demoting links to external websites. While this innovation promises enhanced user experience and convenience, it has raised concerns about its potential impact on the ecosystem of online content creation and dissemination.

Danielle Coffee, CEO of the News Media Alliance, a nonprofit representing over 2,200 publishers, including The Post, condemned Google’s move as a “perverse twist on innovation.” She warned that the introduction of AI-generated summaries could significantly diminish the traffic publishers depend on to sustain their operations and invest in quality journalism.

“Google’s new product will further diminish the limited traffic publishers rely on to invest in journalists, uncover and report on critical issues, and to fuel these AI summaries in the first place,” Coffee stated, expressing deep concern about the potential consequences of Google’s actions.

Related: EU Commissioner Says AI-Generated Content Should Be Labelled

The implications of Google’s decision extend beyond the realm of revenue generation for publishers. With the tech giant already under scrutiny for alleged monopolistic practices, including facing a federal antitrust lawsuit targeting its dominance in the online search market, the introduction of AI Overviews could invite increased regulatory and legal scrutiny.

Furthermore, Google is embroiled in various legal battles concerning its ad tech practices, including a significant lawsuit filed by media giant Axel Springer and 31 other publishers, seeking $2.3 billion in damages.

The contentious introduction of AI-generated summaries represents a pivotal moment in the ongoing debate surrounding the power and responsibilities of tech behemoths like Google. While the company touts innovation and user experience improvements, critics argue that such initiatives could come at the expense of smaller publishers and content creators, potentially reshaping the digital landscape in profound ways.

Source: NY Post