Google Chrome 71 will continue crackdown on sites with abusive ads

Google says previous ad blocking protections only blocked half of the abusive sites it wanted to block.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor

Chrome 71, scheduled for release in December, will improve the browser's ability to block intrusive and misleading advertising, Google said today.

Starting with Chrome 71, Google plans to improve its ability to block all ads on websites that feature what the company calls "abusive experiences." According to Google, this includes

  • Fake Messages - Ads or other elements that resemble chat apps, warnings, system dialogs, or other notifications that lead to an ad or landing page when clicked.
  • Unexpected Click Areas - Transparent backgrounds, non-visible page elements, or other typically non-clickable areas that lead to an ad or landing page when clicked.
  • Misleading Site Behavior - Page features such as scroll bars, play buttons, "next" arrows, close buttons, or navigation links that lead to an ad or landing page when clicked.
  • Phishing - Ads or page elements that attempt to steal personal information or trick your users into sharing personal information.
  • Auto Redirect - Ads or page elements that auto-redirect the page without user action.
  • Mouse Pointer - Ads or page elements that resemble a moving or clicking mouse pointer that attempt to trick a user into interacting with it.
  • Malware or Unwanted Software - Ads or page elements that promote, host, or link to malware or unwanted software that may be installed on your users' machines.
  • Ads with Missing or Misleading Branding - Ads that promote or depict unidentified or fictitious businesses. Examples include ads or other elements that are missing a company name, branding, and a logo--even if a generic description is included.

Any website that persistently features any of the above "abusive experiences" will be added to a blacklist and have its ads removed when loaded inside Chrome.

Website owners can visit a section inside the Google Search Console named Abusive Experiences Report, to check if Google has seen any "abusive experiences" on their sites.

Once a site is added to this blacklist, Google will give website owners 30 days to remove "abusive experiences" from their pages before starting to remove all ads, including the non-intrusive ones.

The Chrome 71 "update" isn't actually something new. Google announced this mechanism in November 2017, and it first deployed it with Chrome 64, released in January 2018.

The only change is that Google will apply its filtering for misbehaving sites a lot stricter than before.

"We've learned since then that this approach did not go far enough," said Vivek Sekhar, Product Manager for Google. "In fact, more than half of these abusive experiences are not blocked by our current set of protections, and nearly all involve harmful or misleading ads."

Google said that only a "small number of sites" featured persistent abusive experiences, meaning this wasn't such a widespread problem, yet one that still needed to be addressed because "these abusive ad experiences are used by scammers and phishing schemes to steal personal information."

If, for various reasons, users want to disable Chrome's built-in ad blocking engine, they can go to chrome://settings/content/ads and disable it, although we highly recommend against it.


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