Google ends Simplified URL experiment in Chrome

Google revealed plans in mid-2020 to replace the full URL displayed in the company's Chrome web browser with just the root domain name of the site.

The company hoped that the reduction would help users of its browser against phishing and other domain-based attacks.

A visit to any site in Chrome would show only the main domain, e.g. ghacks.net, instead of the full path. While Google did introduce options to display the full URL in Chrome, criticism was leveled at Google right from the get-go.

The full URL offers valuable information, especially on multi-user or publisher sites such as WordPress or Blogger.

A new post on the Chromium Bugs site reveals that the results were not as promising as Google had hoped. According to the post, security metrics did not improve when URLs were reduced to the bare minimum in the company' web browser. As a consequence, Google decided to end the simplified domain experiment.

Delete simplified domain experiment

This experiment didn't move relevant security metrics, so we're not
going to launch it. :(

Google Chrome will display the full URL going forward, and not just the base domain name of a site visited in the browser. The change won't affect the removal of the protocol HTTPS:// or common parts such as www, as these continue to be hidden in Chrome.

chrome always show full urls

Desktop users of Chrome may display the missing pieces by right-clicking in the browser's address bar and selecting the "Always show full URLs" option there. Once checked, Chrome will display the full address including the protocol and common parts such as www again for all visited sites.

The experiment was not the first attack against the URL in Chrome's address bar. Back in 2018, Google introduced an experiment that would display the search term in the Chrome address bar and not the URL of the site. Google was criticized heavily for the change and pulled it eventually before it made its way into stable versions of the browser.

Still, it is probably only a matter of time before the next URL hiding change for the sake of users of Chrome is introduced as an experiment by Google.

Now You: full URL all the time or not? What is your opinion?

Summary
Google ends Simplified URL experiment in Chrome
Article Name
Google ends Simplified URL experiment in Chrome
Description
Google has ended the Simplified URL experiment in the company's Chrome browser that would display only the root domain of the site and not the full URL when enabled.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Violatedand offended by all said on June 11, 2021 at 8:25 am
    Reply

    There wasn’t enough leeway there to inject advertising so we will find a better way, surely there are hundreds of thousands of advertising opportunities all over the code! We’re not evil, we’re businessmen!

  2. Yash said on June 11, 2021 at 8:34 am
    Reply

    My opinion is simple, Google is mostly shit and in name of users introduce features with no obvious benefits to user, same as their half arsed approach in stopping user tracking in Apps in Android 12. They most of the time are atleast 3 years behind Apple(which is also not perfect).

  3. Iron Heart said on June 11, 2021 at 9:54 am
    Reply

    FYI: Ungoogled Chromium displays the full URL by default, Brave has a setting for this under brave://settings/appearance

    1. BraveBoi said on June 12, 2021 at 8:11 am
      Reply

      So Brave needs to be changed from default, good to know

  4. Anonymous said on June 11, 2021 at 9:56 am
    Reply

    Now You: full URL all the time or not? What is your opinion?

    >

    Definitely full URL all the time, been using the corresponding option in Brave since the beginning.

  5. Lemegeton said on June 11, 2021 at 11:32 am
    Reply

    AMP technology has not received the desired (by Google) proliferation, and, apparently, this is what the concealment of full address was all about.
    So they gave up the idea _for now_. But I guess this is temporary: they will make another approach to try to get rid of the explicitly visible address.

  6. ChromeFan said on June 11, 2021 at 11:59 am
    Reply

    People liked to be phished, I guess. And they go crying when they do. Google should just force enable this, what’s the worse that will happen? They will leave to another browser? Ha, don’t make me laugh.

    1. Ross Presser said on June 11, 2021 at 4:58 pm
      Reply

      I don’t really know what to say to that. There are so many falsehoods lying beneath what you actually wrote that I have trouble believing it’s the same language that I am using.

  7. Tom Hawack said on June 11, 2021 at 12:08 pm
    Reply

    The reason invoked by Google for displaying only the domain name in the urlbar was :
    “[…] the display of the full URL makes it difficult for the average user to distinguish between legitimate and malicious sites.”

    I didn’t understand at the time this argument, I still don’t. The “average user” would be so dumb that only the domain should be displayed in order to get his attention on that domain? If that is the case then I pain to understand how such a user would be qualified to “distinguish between legitimate and malicious sites”. Unless to imagine this average user as technically inclined but basically a day dreamer. Smart kid but always dreaming is he? What the heck is this bazaar sociology?

    Of course the full url is to be displayed, web protocol included (http: or https:). Just imagine several opened tabs from the same domain. An address is only approximate if not complete. “Where from? — New York — Vague — Manhattan — Wide — Broadway — Long — What you want, my apt#?”. Same here : we want to know the exact address of the page we’ve landed on.

    Made it long because I love to romance descriptions :=)

  8. ULBoom said on June 11, 2021 at 9:51 pm
    Reply

    I still don’t understand much at all about this. Security wasn’t improved with less text in the URL bar? Duhhhh??? Most users have no idea that obnoxious flashing thing is the URL bar. Most users are on phones; they ignore everything but what appears to be the thing they want. (Which kinda makes ads pointless but whatever…)

    Users, most of whom aren’t really sure what a browser is, are supposed to be security experts? That’s what AV’s, Ad blockers, browser malware/phishing (via. Google?) are for.

    Shortening what appears in the URL bar, IMO, isn’t a big deal for most users, less clutter, as long as the whole URL can be easily shown to those who care. But tying it into security is disingenuous; it’s likely some obscure means of increasing ad revenue.

    So, this is how Google boosts their rep; by making up security issues, fixing them and a few months later saying “Just kidding.” So glad that wasn’t a problem!

    Since almost no one knows Google does these weird things, they have very little effect on anything; the gist of the article.

  9. Anonymous said on June 11, 2021 at 11:59 pm
    Reply

    The only benefit would be when you accidentally click on a Google sponsored site and it produces one of those super-long unintelligible strings of characters that stay on screen until the whole world of advertising knows you we silly enough to click the link. Google for Google tracking but the redirect eventually takes you to something readable so no great advantage for the user other than it does warn about the tracking link.

    1. Iron Heart said on June 12, 2021 at 10:33 am
      Reply

      @Anonymous

      > when you accidentally click on a Google sponsored site and it produces one of those super-long unintelligible strings

      https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/clearurls/lckanjgmijmafbedllaakclkaicjfmnk

      > but the redirect

      https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/skip-redirect/jaoafjdoijdconemdmodhbfpianehlon

      Thank me later.

  10. jake said on June 12, 2021 at 3:40 am
    Reply

    I don’t see how hiding the protocols was going to help in combating phishing, in fact I think it does the opposite!

    Not being able to see that the site is using https or www. instead of www2. or http is a pretty bad idea that hides important information from users that can help them deduce if the site is secure or not, whoever was the genius to suggest this change should be fired or relegated to bathroom cleaning duties only.

  11. Anonymous said on June 12, 2021 at 6:27 am
    Reply

    Change for the sake of change with these fools at big tech companies. Why would I want my address bar text shorter on my widescreen monitor? There’s so much room for activities.

    1. Dumbledalf said on June 12, 2021 at 10:15 am
      Reply

      I guess that’s intended for the average Joe type of users who want things to be as simple as possible. But then again, up to now everyone was used to having full URLs so shortening will only end up confusing people.

      I also find URL shortening to be unfriendly and it doesn’t solve anything to begin with.

  12. Tim Bonham said on June 12, 2021 at 7:38 pm
    Reply

    It would be greatly to Google’s financial/advertising advantage if people would forget about URL’s entirely, and always go to webpages via their search engine.

    So everything Google Inc. can do to discourage use of URL’s, and reduce the display of URL’s works to increase their profits.

    So I expect we’ll continue to see Google attempting to downgrade URL’s — and claiming it’s done “to improve security” or “to improve user convenience”.

  13. owl said on June 14, 2021 at 6:26 am
    Reply

    Let’s learn,
    About Google’s deception feature “Simplified URLs”
    Link shorteners: the long and short of why you shouldn’t use them | Government Communication Service
    https://gcs.civilservice.gov.uk/blog/link-shorteners-the-long-and-short-of-why-you-shouldnt-use-them/
    URL shortening | Wikipedia.org
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/URL_shortening

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