React, etc. Tech Stack

React, Flux, GraphQL, Hack, HHVM...? All of this and more! pushes Bitcoin Mining as an alternative to ads is a premium online content provider. Having been in the online publication business since 1995 the publication has seen a lot. Companies like Google and Facebook have generated huge profits from online advertising, but content creators like Salon have not been as lucky.

In recent years the situation has been made even worse for ad dependent publications with the rise of adblockers. Now Salon is trying a novel tactique to make revenue from it's visitors. Upon a visitor using an ad blocker the site displays a notification that gives an option to "Block ads by allowing Salon to use your unused computing power"

This means that the publication would like to use your computer (or smartphone) resources to do computations on your hardware. In practice it the site initially use it to mine cryptocurrencies using your CPU and GPU:

For our beta program, we’ll start by applying your processing power to mine cryptocurrencies to recoup lost ad revenue when you use an ad blocker.  We plan to further use any learnings from this to help support the evolution and growth of blockchain technology, digital currencies and other ways to better service the value exchange between content and user contribution.

This is a technique that is already common, and in use by malicious parties on websites. Contemporary web browsers allow efficient access to CPU and GPU resources in browsers: Mining Bitcoins with browsers and JavaScript

In fact it's been pondered upon this site as a means that users could pay infrastructure operators like Facebook with computing. The income from highly personalized ads will likely be dwarf income from distributed computing, so this is probably not something that specific company will pursue.

Regardless of when (or if) leasing computing resources as micropayments for read audiences, the practise has definitely become commonplace in 2018. Malicious plugins have been used to mine visitors of WordPress sites, and Bitcoin mining malware has been spread to a number of UK Government web sevices.

The spread of cryptocurrency mining by hackers has prompted browser vendor Opera to add Cryptocurrency Mining Blocker to it's flagship browser. This is especially valuable on devices running on battery, where the additional computing cycles will deplete battery quickly.

More details on the FAQ: What happens when I choose to “Suppress Ads” on Salon?

Written by Jorgé on Wednesday February 14, 2018

Permalink - Tags: javascript, bitcoin

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