By Gregg Keizer
Damned by its own success, Google this week announced it was cracking down on a glut of Chrome add-ons that are as noxious to the browser as spam is to email.
“The increase in adoption of the extension platform has also attracted spammers and fraudsters introducing low-quality and misleading extensions in an attempt to deceive and trick our users into installing them to make a quick profit,” wrote Rebecca Soares and Benjamin Ackerman, the policy manager for the Chrome web store and associate principal for Safe Browsing Operations, respectively, in a post to a company blog. “We want to ensure that the…Chrome Web Store is clear and informative and not muddled with copycats, misleading functionalities or fake reviews and ratings.”
To give itself authority to scrub spam-like extensions from the e-market – the only sanctioned source of Chrome add-ons – Google added some new rules to its developer program policies. They will be enforced starting Aug. 27, or two days after the currently scheduled release date for Chrome 85.
Soares and Ackerman lumped the anti-spam guidelines into five categories, disallowing:
Google has long worked on ways to get a handle on Chrome’s extension library, but those have usually focused on making the Web Store the sole source, such as this move seven years ago and this one from 2018, or when it cited security reasons for why it had to have the ability to disable already-installed extensions en masse.
Having concentrated add-ons in the Web Store and more importantly, crushed Chrome’s competition, Google faces too much of, if not a good thing, then a thing: Soares and Ackerman boasted that the Chrome Web Store housed more than 200,000 add-ons.
Apparently, not all deserve to be there. “After [Aug. 27], extensions that violate the updated policy may be taken down and disabled,” Soares and Ackerman said, threatening not only to yank violators from the mart but also switch off in copies of Chrome.
For more information about the new anti-spam rules, developers can look to this Google-made FAQ.
This story, “Google to expel spammy, pointless Chrome extensions at end of August” was originally published by
Senior Reporter Gregg Keizer covers Windows, Office, Apple/enterprise, web browsers and web apps for Computerworld.
Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.