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Latest Chrome feature will block pop-ups and shady redirects

Google says this feature will offer users more protection.

PHOTO: CHROME_PUBLIC DOMAIN PICTURES

A new Google Chrome update will now prevent sketchy websites from automatically redirecting users to another unwanted tab or advertisement page.

These annoying pop-ups usually happen when the browser has been hijacked by a bad ad or when the redirect is intentionally done to force users to see a particular web page.

Google’s plan to block these pesky redirects comes in three parts.

First, it will block ad redirects that have not been clicked on. When said pop-up is blocked, Chrome will then surface a notification in the toolbar.

Second, the feature will also help prevent ‘reverse pop-ups’: this is when a user clicks on a link and an ad appears on the main window, and the desired location opens in another; Google further commented that this is “effectively a circumvention of Chrome’s pop-up blocker”.

PHOTO: AD BLOCKED/FLICKR

Third, the update has the ability to go after invisible overlays, such as advertisement links disguised as buttons – think video playback controls.

The first two parts of Chrome’s three-prong approach will be available in Chrome 64 and 65. For Chrome 64, it is currently in Google’s “Canary” release stage; this means the software is in a pre-beta form.

According to Google, these changes will be released “in the first few months of 2018″; as for the third part, it will be launched specifically in January 2018.

That being said, Google is also releasing a tool named the Abusive Experiences Report. This report will offer developers some leeway to check in advance whether or not their platforms are compliant.

If it isn’t, the developers will have 30 days to iron out the flaws before Google officially starts preventing the site from opening new tabs and windows.

PHOTO: AN EXAMPLE OF CHROME BLOCKING A REDIRECT ON A TEST SITE/GOOGLE

In a blog post, Google said that these added measures will “dramatically improve users’ web browsing experiences while still allowing them access to all that the web has to offer”.

Ad regulation and Adpocalypse

While a browser blocking unwanted ads is no significant milestone in the digital scene, how Google, being a tech behemoth, takes change of its larger advertisement initiatives would be something to watch closely.

After all, its strategies to regulate advertisements have caused some large waves to form in various online communities; this is especially true for YouTube.

Ominously termed as the ‘YouTube Adpocalypse’ – which took place earlier this year in February – the regulatory efforts by the platform has introduced new terms that affect video compensations.

PHOTO: PIXABAY

Besides demonetizing some YouTube channels directly, any other videos that fall into the broad categories of “sensitive social issues” or “sensational and shocking” will see a fall in its ad revenue.

The Adpocalypse has been detrimental to many online creators, with some, such as prominent commentator Philip DeFranco claiming that his revenue saw a massive plunge of up to 80 per cent.

Why regulate?

The core reason for the Adpocalypse is attributed to advertisers being concerned about their ads appearing on controversial videos.

In other words, many companies have stated that they do not want their advertisements to appear on channels that have overtly divisive content, as this may jeopardize the image of their brands.

While this is a more than fair request on the advertisers’ part, the move has invited some criticism.

Many have stated that instead of broadly removing the majority of advertisements from certain channels, Google should have offered a customizable opt-out approach; this alternative allows some advertisers to remove themselves from controversial channels and for others, who are willing, to remain with said channels.

As a middleman of advertisers and content creators, this would have been a fairer way of dealing with the issue.

A second criticism lies with the free speech implications of demonetizing testy content. When controversial information reduces ad revenue, it conclusively also becomes less valuable, and less worthwhile to produce.

That being said, this would indirectly encourage more and more creators to stay away from divisive content, bite their tongues and only promote certain discourses that are deemed more acceptable or politically correct.

For now, all eyes are on Google as they continue working with Coalition for Better Ads, an organization that includes several other tech giants and media groups, whom will continue to roll out “new global standards for online advertising”.

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