As if ads weren’t bad enough, some less conscientious site owners have learned to misuse and abuse one of the modern Web’s features that, on their own, could actually be benign. But just like notifications on your phone, webpage notifications have not only become a nuisance, some have even become dangerous. In its efforts to make the Web a better place and make ads look less devious, Google is pushing a new feature in version 86 of Chrome that will block sites that use notifications to display abusive and misleading content.
This is actually the third installment in Google’s campaign against wayward web notifications. In Chrome 80, it introduced a new Quiet Notification Permissions that is the foundation for all future notification features. In Chrome 84, Google started auto-enrolling sites that employed deceptive methods to get users to give it permission to use hardware, like accessing cameras or writing to computer storage.
Chrome 86 focuses on actual abusive notification content, Google explains, that trick users into accepting notifications that will then send malware or pretend to be system messages that ask for their credentials. Chrome will block interaction with these sites and require users to explicitly allow them to send notifications, along with a clear warning that the site might be trying to trick them.
Chrome will automatically detect such sites thanks to Google’s automated web crawler. The crawler will occasionally subscribe to such push notifications if requested and will then be evaluated for abusive content. Violators will then be sent a notice through the website’s Search Console and will have a 30-day grace period before they are put on Chrome’s naughty list.
Of course, this protection works only in Chrome, and only in the latest version, so other browsers are still fair game for such abusive and deceptive behavior. While Google and Chrome fans will push this as one of the ways the browser makes the Web a better place, some will point out how Google is also using its ownership of Chrome to push for its own rules and its own systems.