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Google on Tuesday unveiled a major overhaul to its flagship search engine that uses AI-generated summaries to displace the links to news stories a move that threatens to deprive traditional media companies of much-needed revenue.  

The new feature, dubbed AI Overviews, will debut in the US this week and provide answers to queries like How to fix my toilet? or What is thebest way to clean leather boots”— pushing down the set of links related to the search.

The release at its  annual I/O conference will surely rankle news outlets and other publishers who have seen their traffic and ad revenue crater at the expense of Googles dominance of the internet. 

By making this move, theyre flipping a switch to replace the open web with their own content to increase their profits which still today are almost entirely driven by advertising, Jason Kint, a prominent Google critic and CEO of Digital Content Next, told The Post. 

The Mountain View, Calif.-based tech giant maintains a 90% market share in search. Its alleged monopoly led to a landmark lawsuit by the federal government against the company.   

Industry experts have speculated that AI Overviews could disrupt the advertising market leading to potential annual losses for publishers of more than $2 billion.

Marc McCollum, Chief Innovation Officer at media companyRaptive, said the new technology willsignificantly reduce creator traffic compared to their traditional search product.

Google AI Overviews still uses copyrighted content without consent or compensation competing directly with independent content creators, McCollum told The Post. This is yet another example of Big Tech making moves that devastate successful small businesses.

Ross Hudgens, CEO of search engine optimization firm Siege Media, told the Washington Post this week that some publishers could lose 20% or more of their search traffic due to Googles changes.

Some people are going to just get bludgeoned, Hudgens said.

The Post reached out to Google for comment. 

The company maintained in a blogpost that links presented within AI Overviews will get more clicks than if the page had appeared as a traditional web listing for that query.

“As we expand this experience, well continue to focus on sending valuable traffic to publishers and creators,” Liz Reid, the head of Google Search, said in a blog post.

More than 1 billion users will have access to AI Overviews in their search results by the end of the year.

Last fall, a study published by Columbia University found that Google should pay news outletsbetween $10 billion and $12 billionto account for the ad revenue generated by their search traffic.

Google has alreadyfaced intense criticism for displaying AI-generated ripoffsprominently in its search results in some cases ahead of the human-produced content they copied. Elsewhere, a study found that thequality of Googles search engine results has actually gotten worsedue to rampant spam.

The tech giant could also face scrutiny over the quality of the answers after the disastrous rollout of its Gemini chatbots AI image generation tool, which had to be disabled after it beganspitting out historically inaccurate pictures including Black Vikings and female Popes.

Google unveiled AI Overviews along with a slate of other products just one day after Microsoft-backed OpenAI wowed audiences with the release of ChatGPT-4o, an updated version of the popular chatbot capable of real-time language translation and other conversational interactions. 

Some analysts have cited the rise of ChatGPT and other chatbots as a threat to Googles search empire.  

One alarming study conducted by research firm Gartner predicted that overall traffic to the web from search engines will plunge by 25% in 2026 due to the rise of AI chatbots.

Google is leaning further into the AI race even as it faces unprecedented scrutiny from antitrust watchdogs over alleged anticompetitive behavior across its business.

As The Post reportedlast October, some critics, including former Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), have warned that the integration of AI features could further entrench Googles monopoly over online search unless officials take action.

The federal judge in the Justice Departments case against Google is expected to rule later this year.

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