As people become more and more dependent on the Web, web browsers have also increasingly become almost sacred spaces. Anything, even the smallest annoyance, could send users down a rabbit hole of frustration and despair. That’s especially true when websites, intentionally or otherwise, change how standard actions behave. As part of its crackdown on misbehaving websites and web pages, Google Chrome will soon be making sure that its Back button will really take you back to the last page you’ve been to, not the half dozen ads you never even saw.
For the sake of earning money or gathering data, ad makers, website owners, and hackers have employed more and more cunning strategies to deceive both users and browsers. Some ads, for example, have close buttons that do the exact opposite of what they should. Chrome’s latest releases have started to banish those and it’s now training its crosshair on the next most abused web browser control: the back button.
You have probably come across websites that seemingly take you places you never actually visited. You click on a link to go to a page but clicking the back button takes you to pages filled with ads that you never saw in between. While you can click and hold on the back button to skip those seemingly magic pages, that’s not how the Web should work in the first place.
Google calls it “history manipulation” and websites are abusing Web functionality to insert things into the browser history. That’s going to stop soon, at least on Chrome, but also not immediately. Like its war on misbehaving ads, there will be multiple steps and feature updates that will identify such websites, flag them, and, in the future, block them completely.
The feature will be optionally available at first via a hidden flag but we can expect it to be standard after a few releases. Google has yet to make an announcement but, given its history, it will most likely make a big splash about it as well.