Google Search Users Express Discontent During Reddit Blackout

In the midst of Reddit users protesting the recent changes to the platform’s API, an unexpected side effect emerged: Google Search users voiced their dissatisfaction with the search engine. Leaked audio recordings obtained by CNBC revealed that Prabhakar Raghavan, Google’s senior vice president of Search, acknowledged the discontent of users during a company-wide meeting. The blackout of numerous large subreddits caused Google search results to become inaccessible or irrelevant, as many users utilize the term “reddit” as a modifier to refine their searches for specific information.

Raghavan addressed the issue during the meeting, stating, “Many of you may wonder how we have a search team that’s iterating and building all this new stuff and yet somehow, users are still not quite happy. We need to make users happy.” His response came after an employee raised concerns about negative user feedback, citing irrelevant search results and an increasing number of ads. Google has not yet provided a comment regarding these revelations.

To address the problem, Google executives introduced a new feature called Perspectives. Released last week, Perspectives aims to highlight human-generated videos and written posts from platforms such as TikTok, Reddit, and Quora. Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained in the leaked audio that users desire “comprehensive answers” rather than just “blue links,” which is why the search engine emphasizes results from sites like Reddit. The VP of engineering added that the Perspectives tab was an attempt to increase the prominence of such content.

The protests on Reddit were triggered in April when the platform announced plans to charge companies for API access. In response, Redditors launched a strike, leading hundreds of subreddits to go private from June 12 onwards. Although the protest was scheduled to conclude on June 14, some subreddits hinted at an indefinite blackout after a leaked memo from CEO Steve Huffman indicated that no changes would be made. While the disruption of Google Search during the protest was an unforeseen consequence, Reddit’s traffic has since returned to normal, indicating that the impact was temporary.