Google is promising to punish sites that offer what the company calls “abusive experiences.” Chrome 71, due for release in December, will blacklist sites that are repeat offenders and suppress all advertising on those sites.
The behaviors deemed abusive cover a range of user-hostile things, such as ads that masquerade as system error messages, ads with fake close boxes that actually activate an ad when clicked, phishing, and malware. In general, if an ad is particularly misleading, destructive, or intrusive, it runs the risk of being deemed abusive.
Chrome already takes some actions against certain undesirable website behaviors; it tries to block popups, it limits autoplay of video, and it blocks certain kinds of redirection. These measures have been insufficient to prevent misleading or dangerous ads, hence Google taking further steps to banish them from the Web.
Google has a tool to let site operators check if their sites are deemed abusive, and the company will give them 30 days to remedy any problematic ads. Chrome users can also override Google’s ad blocking should they choose to.
While we’d imagine that a large majority of Web users will be glad to see less of this kind of advertising, the company’s decision to act this way is sure to concern those who are wary of the outsized role the advertising giant plays on the Web. Google’s Chrome browser is the most widely used browser, on both mobile and the desktop, by a significant margin. This gives the company considerable latitude to shape the way the Web develops. The Web may well be a better place without this kind of advertising, but should it really be the job of one company to ensure that?