Back in May 2023 Google Chrome committed to a software update. Now, they update their software pretty regularly, so, no big deal, right?

Not quite.

The newest change isn’t terrible, but, visually and user-behaviorally, it’s going to take some getting used to.

The Update

I talked with a client over the Christmas holidays about their latest WordPress website updates. The client told me they’d been startled to see, in Google Chrome (their favorite browser), their website was no longer secure!

This startled me, too, so I began checking several other browsers. All came back with the same thing: the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate was in place and updated, and the padlock appeared to the left of the website address. The website was secure.

Puzzled, I checked the website in a private/incognito Google Chrome window and found my client was right. In the upper left-hand corner, the padlock icon was missing.

What’s The Change?

Remember my first sentence? “Back in May 2023, Google Chrome committed to a software update.”

They removed the padlock!?! 

What showed in its place was two lines, one on top of the other, with an open circle at the opposite end of either line. Google Chrome developers call this visual icon a “tune”.

Visibly Media Google Chrome replaced padlock with tune

The Google Chrome developers felt the padlock gave users a false sense of security. In the past, users have relied on the appearance of the padlock to let them know the website was safe to view. Once the developers realized that even phishing websites had to have security or their sites would get fewer views, they decided to remove the padlock.

What Else Was Changed?

I won’t pretend to know all the updates that happened in this latest version; all I’ve researched was the updates regarding this new visual and the missing padlock.Visibly Media Google Chrome options under the tune icon

 

The tune — two lines with an open circle at opposite ends that I referred to — acts as a type of filter. It shows users whether or not the website is secure, and if the SSL certificate is valid. When clicked on the desktop version, it allows the user to manage cookies settings per website. The user can also manage the browser’s settings from the tune; these settings include your microphone, location, and security, among others.

Visibly Media Google Chrome manage cookies per website using tune icon

 

Read more about the change and the developer’s decision in this article by ExtremeTech (click or tap the text to read).

This isn’t the first time a browser or software company removed the padlock. As I researched, I found a post on Medium.com that detailed the padlock’s retirement as far back as 2017, and for the same reasoning.

The Wrap-Up

With this change, I predict two things will happen before the end of 2024:

  1.  As word spreads about this update, users who have come to rely on seeing the padlock will become confused by its absence. It’s not going to be an easy behavior to change, but it is necessary. I would expect to see some posts in forums chatting about it, even discussing getting Google to add it back. That’s likely not going to happen.
  2.  I expect the other browsers (i.e., Safari, Microsoft Edge, Vivaldi, Brave, etc.) to “fall in line” and remove the padlock. Further, because I also expect resistance, I’m also expecting Google to “enforce” by not allowing content to be searched on the other browsers until they change.

Stay tuned and let’s see what happens and who’s right.

 

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Author

  • Lisa Raymond

    Lisa Raymond is the owner and creative genius of Visibly Media. She has been in graphic and website design for over 25 consecutive years, social media management & marketing since 2007, married over 30 years, 4 children, 4 grandbabies, and Queen in her organized realm of chaos! Lisa & Visibly Media do not use any AI in the creation of marketing strategies, posts, and graphics.