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Google Chrome Strips www. and m.

Google Chrome Strips www. and m.
With the release of Google Chrome 69, the world’s most popular browser now  hides important information from users.  The latest version of Google Chrome strips www. and m. from URLs in the address bar when visiting sites.

This means that visiting www.itenvoy.com shows only itenvoy.com in the address bar as shown below.

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Whilst that may not seem like a terrible thing, “www.domainname.com” and “domainname.com” can point to two different sites (and often do).

Right clicking on the domain to copy and paste gives you the altered domain not the original.

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Which means you could send a friend or colleague to a completely different site!

There are also reports that ‘www’ is being stripped from different parts of the URL – not just the prefix though I have not seen this myself.

What Are Google Saying

In a statement given to Wired, Adrienne Porter Felt, who happens to be the engineering manager for Chrome said:

“People have a really hard time understanding URLs. They’re hard to read, it’s hard to know which part of them is supposed to be trusted, and in general I don’t think URLs are working as a good way to convey site identity. [..] We want to challenge how URLs should be displayed and question it as we’re figuring out the right way to convey identity.”

Let’s dissect that statement.

“People have a really hard time understanding URLs. They’re hard to read”

Really?  I would say the majority of people understand and indeed expect to see “www”.  Confusion will be caused by its disappearance and seeing it when using other browsers on other devices.  If any part of the URL is hard to read it’s the part after the domainname.com/.

“It’s hard to know which part of them is supposed to be trusted.”

Well an SSL certificate is bound to the exact URL – so how does hiding part of it help with trust?

“in general I don’t think URLs are working as a good way to convey site identity”

Hiding www and showing just the domain name doesn’t help as already pointed out  “domain.com” and “www.domain.com “ can be two different sites.  Indeed combining “www.domain.com”,  “m.domain.com” and “domain.com” obfuscates potentially three different sites.

“question it as we’re figuring out the right way to convey identity.”

Well thanks but that’s already been done and been working for the last 20 odd years without much issue thanks very much.

Get Your URL BACK

If you don’t like the way Chrome strips part of the URL you can turn it off in the settings.  But by default after the upgrade the URL stripping is turned on by default.

For instructions on how to do that visit Lauren Weinstein’s Blog.

It’s also been pointed out that when you click in the address bar to edit the URL it will unhide the full URL whilst in edit mode.  Great.  So to be sure I am on the correct URL I can no longer just look at the address bar.  I have to click the address bar – and not once to highlight it but twice.

Click Once

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Click Twice

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So What’s REALLY Behind The Change?

An interesting question being asked is “what’s really behind the change?”.

Many in the industry believe the next step is to hide the somewhat controversial amp. prefix from view.

The amp prefix, whilst making news stories load faster on mobile devices, gives traffic clicks to Google, not the news site.

If you’re going to make a land grab, I guess you’re better trying to hide it.

Google is regularly accused of abusing its dominant position.  Perhaps with good reason.

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