Adobe Flash will officially keel over in 2020. Its presence on the web might be forgotten even sooner than that, however, because Google announced yesterday that its search engine will stop indexing Flash content by the end of the year.
The question used to be "if a tree falls in the forest but nobody's around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Now, it's "if something exists on the Internet but Google doesn't index it, does it really exist?" Search has become the default way of finding stuff online--Flash's disappearance from Google's results basically makes it invisible.
Here's the good news: Google isn't removing websites that have Flash content from its search results. That would be a disaster, because people who operate sites that still rely on Flash probably wouldn't be technically savvy enough to understand why they've disappeared from Google. The pages containing Flash content will remain.
Instead, "in Web pages that contain Flash content, Google Search will ignore the Flash content," Google explained. Google will also "stop indexing standalone SWF files." But the search tool assured us that "most users and websites won't see any impact from this change" to Google Search.
This isn't Google's only method of helping Flash along its journey into the afterlife. The plugin's disabled by default in Chrome, and the company plans to completely remove support for Flash from its browser by the end of 2020. (These changes also affect the Chromium-based version of Edge that Microsoft's been developing.)
Many have acknowledged that Adobe ending Flash support marks the end of an era. Google said in its blog post that the plugin "was the answer to the boring static web, with rich animations, media and actions" and was "a prolific technology that inspired many new content creators on the web." But now it's time for Flash to fade away.
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Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.