The battle with ads, and their cousin spam, is a never ending one. While a well-placed ad or two can generate legitimate interest, not to mention revenue, for some, there are those who would unconscientiously go beyond limits as evidenced by recent events surrounding two Google Chrome extensions.
The two extensions, “Add to Feedly” and “Tweet This Page”, aren’t really that popular, with only less than 100,000 users each. What brought these extensions into the spotlight was how they were silently updated and then started showing ads on any web page. Annoying as they are, these events are not entirely shocking until you consider the events that have led to them.
Google has several policies in place when it comes allowing extensions on its Chrome Web Store, including limits on the number and placement of ads. But like on Android, Google doesn’t go actively policing or screening these extensions. In fact, Google pretty much allows extensions to be updated silently in the background and neither Google nor users actually review these changes until it’s too late.
That is something that people with less than benign intentions have recently been trying to take advantage of. The problem with “Add to Feedly” and “Tweet This Page” is that authors of both extensions have reportedly sold the extensions to other individuals who have then updated the extensions to be come spam-spewing programs. In other cases, extension developers have reported being offered with monetary compensation for silently inserting ads. Other authors also do it themselves out of their own accord, much to the consternation of their users.
This worrying situation isn’t exclusive to Google Chrome either. Writers of Firefox extensions are not immune to such business tactics. Fortunately, Google has taken down these extensions after being alerted to their policy violations. These incidents, however, do show us that even popular programs can still be perverted for the right amount and that one must remain vigilant at all times.
SOURCE: Wall Street Journal