Google announces Chrome Web Store crackdown for August 2020

Google plans to remove a bunch of garbage and useless Chrome extensions from the Web Store.

New bans and rules for shady Chrome extension practices
15:50:00

Google announced today new rules for the Chrome Web Store in an attempt to cut down the number of shady Chrome extensions submitted and listed on the site.

The browser maker says that due to Chrome's success as today's top browser platform, the Chrome Web Store has seen an influx of spammers and fraudsters.

Google says that these malicious entities have been behind a rising number of duplicate, spammy, and downright malicious extensions that are now poisoning and drowning the Chrome Web Store in low-quality content.

Starting August 27, Google says it intends to enforce a new set of rules, which will result in a large number of extensions being delisted. These rules are meant to crack down on a series of practices extension developers have been recently employing to flood the Web Store with shady extensions or boost install counts for low-quality content. They include:

  • Developers cannot submit duplicate extensions anymore. (e.g. Wallpaper extensions that have different names but provide the user with the same wallpapers when installed.)
  • Extensions are not allowed to use "keyword spam" techniques to flood metadata fields with multiple terms and have the extension listed across multiple categories to improve the extension's visibility in search results.
  • Developers are not allowed to use misleading, improperly formatted, non-descriptive, irrelevant, excessive, or inappropriate metadata. Extension metadata needs to be accurate, and Google intends to be strict about it.
  • Developers are now forbidden from inflating product ratings, reviews, or install counts by illegitimate means, such as fraudulent or paid downloads, reviews, and ratings.
  • Extensions that have only one purpose, such as launching a web page or an app, are not allowed anymore.
  • Extensions that abuse browser notifications to spam users with ads or other messages have also been banned.

All extension developers have until August 27 to fix their extensions. Google says it intends to take down all extensions that violate these rules.

When this happens, thousands of garbage Chrome extensions are expected to disappear from the Web Store, which would make searching for useful content on the site much easier and safer, compared to today.

The Chrome Web Store currently lists more than 200,000 extensions, Google said.