What is not emerging is a truly different business model for 21st Century media. Clay Shirkey said Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.
Real ‘fake news’ is just simply lying – it is shaping the concept of what is ‘news’ based on what the purpose of publishing news is for. For at least a century – news has been published based on what will sell – and most importantly then deliver reader’s attention to the real media clients – Advertisers and Marketers. This emerging technology could play a vital role in How we Value our Values.
This autumn the news spread that some websites had been making money by mining cryptocurrencies in their users’ browsers. We have been among the first to add protection from this hidden activity. AdGuard users now receive warnings if a website has been trying to mine, and the users are given the option to let it continue or to block the mining script from running.
We decided to research the issue more so that we could understand its scale and impact. On the Alexa list of the top one hundred thousand websites, we looked for the codes for CoinHive and JSEcoin, the most popular solutions for browser mining in use now.
We found 220 sites that launch mining when a user opens their main page, with an aggregated audience of 500 million people. These people live all over the world; there are sites with users from the USA, China, South American and European countries, Russia, India, Iran… and the list goes on.
220 sites may not seem like a lot. But CoinHive was launched less than one month ago, on the 14th of September.
How much money have these websites made? We estimate their joint profit at over US $43,000. Again, right now it’s not millions, but this money has been made in three weeks at almost zero cost.
Examining the website list more closely, we discovered that many of them are from the “gray zone”, mostly pirate TV and video sites, Torrent trackers and porn websites. Judging from these characteristics, we begin to wonder if browser mining is a bad thing and if it should be banned from the Internet.
The ethical way for a website to earn money by mining through its audience’s computers is to ask the audience for permission first, and to allow them the possibility to opt out. Actually, such a practice could make mining even more ethical than ads. After all, nobody asks us if we would like to see ads on a website. Mining parasitizes the user’s CPU, where ads parasitize the user’s attention, emotions, bandwidth, and often, their laptop or smartphone battery, and supports an industry of personal data harvesting that is a big headache in of itself.
But there are other ways to get miners to behave themselves. A popular CDN service called Cloudflare recently started to suspend accounts and deny service to sites that mine without user permission. A number of ad blockers and antivirus programs also added features that block browser mining.