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Bitcoin Communications Network The Internet Hardware Technology

Salon Magazine Mines Monero On Your Computer If You Use an Ad Blocker (bbc.com) 314

dryriver shares a report from BBC: News organizations have tried many novel ways to make readers pay -- but this idea is possibly the most audacious yet. If a reader chooses to block its advertising, U.S. publication Salon will use that person's computer to mine for Monero, a cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoin. Creating new tokens of a cryptocurrency typically requires complex calculations that use up a lot of computing power. Salon told readers: "We intend to use a small percentage of your spare processing power to contribute to the advancement of technological discovery, evolution and innovation." The site is making use of CoinHive, a controversial mining tool that was recently used in an attack involving government websites in the UK, U.S. and elsewhere. However, unlike that incident, where hackers took control of visitors' computers to mine cryptocurrency, Salon notifies users and requires them to agree before the tool begins mining.
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Salon Magazine Mines Monero On Your Computer If You Use an Ad Blocker

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  • And they prove it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @06:05AM (#56151048)

    People use adblockers because they have no trust in websites to not abuse their computers, eg. by installation of malware through the served ads. Websites so far have refused any kind of responsibility for what happens to your computer as a direct result if visiting them without an adblocker installed.

    So now Salon goes out of their way to use malware if you DO have an adblocker installed. You have to ask yourself what kind of shit is in their ads if that's their mentality. If they can get away with making a bit of money off a portion of their visitors, why not make it off ALL their visitors, adblocker or no?

    • Re:And they prove it (Score:5, Informative)

      by hazardPPP ( 4914555 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @06:24AM (#56151092)

      People use adblockers because they have no trust in websites to not abuse their computers, eg. by installation of malware through the served ads.

      That's part of it for sure. However, it's not just that.

      People (myself included) also use adblockers because they don't want a page they are reading plastered with annoying ads that jump at you every second. It's annoying. You know what I do when a website (usually some online publication, e.g. newspaper or magazine) tells me "you've got an ad blocker installed, please whitelist us to continue reading"? In 99% of the cases, I just leave that website. Most of the stuff I click just isn't THAT interesting to be worth being blasted by ads.

      Which brings us to another point. These sites want to "make readers pay". The things is - readers don't want to pay for most of this content. They're happy to read it if it's free, but if it's not - they can live without it. Not wanting to pay includes not just not wanting to pay with their money - but also with their attention (ads blasting) and computing power (cryptocurrency mining). There's very little content out there that any particular reader is actually willing to pay for.

      How will the poor websites fund themselves you ask? Well, it's their effin' problem that the advertising became way too aggressive and that the web became dominated at one point with websites which are 90% ads and 10% content. Not to mention all the malware and tracking and all of the other crap being "served" via the ads. Had the ads been less aggressive, ad blockers would not have proliferated. Even offline we are inundated with advertising, it goes way beyond just the businesses which fund themselves primarily via ads (e.g. free to air TV and in general media outlets), it looks like everyone is trying to make an extra buck by selling some space for an ad. Is it a wonder that people then massively say well screw you, I'm blocking this?

      • Re:And they prove it (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kokuyo ( 549451 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @06:50AM (#56151132) Journal

        News outlets have just no grasp of the reality of internet existing.

        Seriously, I wanted to have some better news sources than the free papers they keep on train stations. So I paid over 200 bucks for a subscription, digital mind you, to Neue Zuercher Zeitung.

        They still showed me ads and paid content even when logged in. My subscription has now run out. I see no difference in the content.

        I mean what the hell?

        • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @09:10AM (#56151494)

          Agreed. The easiest way to stanch this problem is to never surf to Salon.com. Problem solved.

          When wired.com did their adblocker wall, I kissed them goodbye, and found out how my day improved.

          I'll subscribe to content that I really need. But the madness and security danger poised by ads, not to mention their often dubious origin motivates me to use Privacy Badger and that plus no-script in another browser.

          Publishers can tell me I suck. Fine. I'll go elsewhere. Publishing on the web has a lot of flawed models, and Salon.com just found another one.

          • Re:And they prove it (Score:5, Interesting)

            by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @12:05PM (#56152244) Homepage

            I used to subscribe to the paper version of Wired and let my subscription lapse. They sent me to a collection agency for failure to renew a $12 subscription! How is not renewing a subscription the same as buying something and not paying for it?

          • Re:And they prove it (Score:5, Informative)

            by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @07:38PM (#56154868) Homepage

            ADblockers do not block ads per se. They block scipts and elements of web pages. So Salon wants to be a dick, the adblockers will find the script and block it, good luck the morons at Salon. Can't run shit on a browser that is properly configured for example by https://noscript.net/ [noscript.net] runs fine on https://www.waterfoxproject.or... [waterfoxproject.org] (if you hate quantum and preferred the previous layouts easiest way to go.), excluding of course any browser out of M$, they control it and make no mistake and it will serve compulsory M$ ads, I waiting for the boot up ad, you now ad kicks in at boot and you have to interact with the add at the appropriate points for the next 10 minutes else the computer will complete the boot.

        • The Joe Rogan Experience has completely replaced Talk Shows for me. He actually lets people speak, isn't condescending, and has actual experts on his show.

          TV and traditional media killed itself. And it's nobody's fault but their own.

        • by H3lldr0p ( 40304 )

          I mean what the hell?

          Because the newspaper model was predicated on a race to the bottom. At the turn of the 20th century, those in charge of newspapers just wanted the public to want them, much like how websites just want an audience now. They priced accordingly. A nickel, a dime, a quarter. That's what they thought people would pay for a paper at the time. But that was never enough to actually pay for the paper, let alone make a profit.

          That model never changed.

          That's the hell the newspapers find themselves in. Those in charge

          • Lots of it *is* shit that's not worth paying for; I suspect that they don't want to put the real price out there because they know it.

            There are still some "reputable" news sources left - the big, big papers and all - that DO provide quality content, even if you know that the publisher of the paper may have some bias/ideological bent. You usually know what that ideological bias/bent is, since it's not like they try to hide it.

            *Those* entities have managed to, in some cases, demand and get a "more" reasonable

        • Newspapers are in the advertising business, not the content business. I kind of want to support my local newspaper with a subscription... but I don't want dead trees, ads, or annoying "teaser" rates. Give me a lifetime subscription to the website, ad-free... and I would be happy to pay a few hundred dollars as a *customer* and not as a pair of eyeballs with an income of $X, living in _, and interested in ___...

          I used to subscribe to Salon way back when (2003 or so?) for ideological reasons. They changed s

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          Which other sites are included with your subscription to Neue Zuercher Zeitung? If someone shares the URL of an article with you, and the article is in a publication other than Neue Zuercher Zeitung, how do you respectfully phrase that you decline to read the article?

      • Re:And they prove it (Score:5, Interesting)

        by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @07:34AM (#56151198) Journal
        I love how advertising agencies talk about "improving the reader experience" and "serve ads that are relevant to you", yet the result inavriably seems to be ads that are harder to ignore and annoy the reader to the point where they will leave the site.

        Dear advertisers: if you are serious about improving the reader experience, think about how your ad impresses on a reader who is not interested in whatever it is you're selling. Good ads provide info to people who are interested in your products, entice people who might be interested, and are easily ignored by people who have no interest. Of course many advertisers seem to think that there is no such thing as bad publicity, and believe that the population of people who are not and will never be interested in the product is zero. The result of that thinking is the immense popularity of ad blockers, and declining readership of sites who successfully lock out people using such blockers. If people go out of their way to avoid looking at your ad, that should be telling you something...
        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@wo[ ]3.net ['rld' in gap]> on Monday February 19, 2018 @09:14AM (#56151508) Homepage Journal

          Advertising is about selling you shit you don't need. Selling you shit you do need is easy, invasive advertising is only required to make you buy stuff you could live happily without.

          The primary mechanism for making you buy shit you don't need is psychological abuse. Adverts make you feel inadequate because you don't own that thing. They try to make you measure your worth by the amount of worthless shit you own.

          • Re:And they prove it (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @11:23AM (#56152034) Journal

            Advertising is about selling you shit you don't need. Selling you shit you do need is easy

            I need toilet paper. Advertising has raised my awareness of the brands available and the attributes of their product. It does influence my purchasing decision, thus advertising is helping sell something I do need, disproving your first point.

            So someone trying to sell me shit that I need without advertising is not succeeding, thus disproving your second point.

            Marketing is not sales.

            • by tepples ( 727027 )

              I need toilet paper. Advertising has raised my awareness of the brands available and the attributes of their product.

              So would a nonprofit product tester like Consumer Reports.

        • I'm really tired of the "I just bought that" ads. And then, since we share an Amazon account, my wife sees the surprise I purchased for her advertised to her...

          • I'm really tired of the "I just bought that" ads. And then, since we share an Amazon account, my wife sees the surprise I purchased for her advertised to her...

            Incentive not to buy your mistress anything without an adblocker installed.

      • I don't mind seeing advertising that pays for the content I browse, so long as it can be filtered to present ads that meet a standard for non-obtrusiveness: no popups, malware, or slow loads that restrict access to the site. This is especially a problem when I'm browsing mobile.

        I installed an adblocker because to much of the above "bad" ads were interrupting browse, and now I've uninstalled it because every site I encounter requires me to 'disable adblock before proceeding'. Now I just avoid the sites with

        • I don't mind seeing advertising that pays for the content I browse

          I do because I have yet to find an advertiser that can provide me adequate assurances that data about me isn't being tracked and sold. I *might* be willing to live with some non-obtrusive ads if I could be sure of and control what was done with the data gathered. But until I control that process (which I have no illusions will ever happen) the ads will remain blocked and I will fight tracking with every resource at my disposal. If that means I have access to less content then so be it. Unlike you I actu

          • Ah yes, the big bad tracking beast. Accumulating demographics on how many people searched for new cars on Tuesday in my town is something I consider totally normal and unobjectionable. I’m being surveyed without having to stop what I’m doing to fill out surveys.

            And the personal tracking? Either I see ads for specific items I recently searched for and already bought or I see ads for specific items I searched for but did not buy. In either case, you’re welcome to waste your money.

          • "I do because I have yet to find an advertiser that can provide me adequate assurances..."

            Most media companies and ad agencies have no one who has technical knowledge, or is even interested in technical knowledge. "Adequate assurances" are at least a generation away.
      • by ruir ( 2709173 )
        Nowadays, if a site demands ad-blocking working in 99% of the cases I leave them too.
        In the past I (ad)blocked the shit out of their HTML box and screen filter blocking scrolling, nowadays as a defense, they just load a bit of the news. They do not want us visiting.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        I'd pay if there was a reasonable way to pay.

        If say I could put â10 into a pot and have it paid out to sites I visit somehow I'd be happy to do that. Obviously I'd expect not to be bombarded with ads in return.

        This sounds like a good application for a blockchain.

      • If that bullshit adblocker pop up happens I click a button that disables javascript and then the site is free of annoyances. Funny thing is without the javascript the internet looks like it did in the 1990s. No animated bullshit menus and pages that move and scroll. Images that don't load until you get to them are annoying as fuck. Stop changing the layout as I'm reading as its very distracting.

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      I haven't even heard about Salon until this came up.

      I can't help to wonder though - waste of CPU cycles through ads or through a mining operation. At least they are honest about it.

      • by bazorg ( 911295 )

        I haven't even heard about Salon until this came up.

        I can't help to wonder though - waste of CPU cycles through ads or through a mining operation. At least they are honest about it.

        They are a well established player.
        If you want a good article from Salon that hasn't been quoted here on /. lately, do a search for "Courtney Love does the math". If memory serves, it was written in the year 2000. After reading that, you can refer to Courtney Love as the voice of reason and moderation :)

      • I can't help to wonder though - waste of CPU cycles through ads or through a mining operation. At least they are honest about it.

        But are we sure that the mining takes place only while Salon pages are being viewed?

      • I haven't even heard about Salon until this came up.

        Congratulations! You are one of todays lucky 10,0000 [xkcd.com].

      • I haven't even heard about Salon until this came up.

        I can't help to wonder though - waste of CPU cycles through ads or through a mining operation. At least they are honest about it.

        It's a shame. Salon sometimes has some really interesting articles. They are pretty much a left wing propaganda mouthpiece, but they sometimes have some interesting content nonetheless. I'd read something on their site occasionally. Never again now.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @08:38AM (#56151382)

      People use adblockers because they have no trust in websites to not abuse their computers, eg. by installation of malware through the served ads. Websites so far have refused any kind of responsibility for what happens to your computer as a direct result if visiting them without an adblocker installed.

      This.

      Its gotten so bad that a script blocker like Ghostery is now also a requirement.

    • by hAckz0r ( 989977 )
      Why not let the cloud providers duke this out? And thus it begins another rat-race of technology, where the browser of the future runs itself "in the cloud", to let the likes of Google and other competing providers are left to spin the necessary cpu's to pay for the advertising that was successfully blocked by their own service.

      .
      In this scenario, why not let the cloud run the "malwareizements" and bit-miners, while you sit back and drink your morning coffee, malware and worry free? What's on your desktop

    • by eth1 ( 94901 )

      Guess it's time for a CryptoBlockPlus plugin...

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      I use adblockers because I can. If it where possible I would use them elsewhere as well. The fact that that would mean many service would not be "free (as in beer)" or that the companies will not make money is not my problem. There is no reason for me to defend their business model.

      Or to say it in other words:

      People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant c

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      Unless you run an ad blocker AND a Javascript Blocker. Run a browser without them for about 15 minutes and you quickly realize that the experience is so shitty that you'd be better off just not browsing the internet at all.
    • by zieroh ( 307208 )

      You have to ask yourself what kind of shit is in their ads if that's their mentality.

      I actually turned off ad blocking on Salon recently, and the ads made the site unreadable. Constant DOM changes that jumped the text up and down every few seconds made for a very unpleasant experience, to the point of unusable. Also, just the ads caused my CPU cycles to jump and set my fans spinning, and the page eventually consumed so much memory that my browser halted it.

      So if it's the choice between monero-mining-malware or ad-malware spinning wildly out of control, I guess we should be seeing Salon in a

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2018 @06:17AM (#56151074)

    Suddenly far-left Salon isn't so concerned about climate change, the environment or that currencies like Bitcoin "enable alt-right extremists".

  • by shanen ( 462549 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @06:25AM (#56151094) Homepage Journal

    Crypto-currency is just a gambling scam. I certainly regard it as a good reason to avoid any website, and they didn't need the bad press.

    So let me focus on the solution I keep advocating: SELL ME THE SOLUTIONS. I'm sick and tired of all the problems. I want to do something to help SOLVE the problems.

    The articles or videos about various problems should be followed by links to projects related to solutions for those problems. The journalism part could be supported directly with internal projects, or via tithes on the external projects.

    AtAJG, DAUPR.

  • by Misagon ( 1135 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @06:30AM (#56151100)

    I don't mind ads but I mind my privacy.

    I use EFF's Privacy Badger [eff.org] plugin, which automatically blocks web sites that it has detected to track me.
    Ads on web sites that respect users' privacy are still visible.
    If their web site uses ad-networks that tracks visitors and those ads are blocked as a result then that is the site owner's fault -- and the site deserves to get those ads blocked!

  • uBlock Origin (Score:2, Informative)

    by Hal_Porter ( 817932 )

    If you go to Salon with uBlock Origin in Medium Mode - third party scripts and frames are blocked - it turns out it loads fine.

    And then you see articles like this on the front page and remember why you deleted your bookmark to Salon about ten years ago

    https://www.salon.com/2018/02/18/john-oliver-gives-us-six-lessons-on-how-to-report-on-trump/ [salon.com]

    A listicle based on failed Brit comedian and CURRENT YEAR man, now a wholly owned subsidiary of the DNC saying things like 'late-night comedians have become the nation'

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      You know that when you make an ad-hominem attack on a comedian who says unkind things about Mr. Trump you are basically signalling to the world that you've lost the argument and this is all you have left.

      Oliver's new season started last night. Haven't seen it yet but I'm guessing you don't have any specific criticisms of its content.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        He's a fucking comedian.
        This is like writing an article about how insightful Dave Chapelle is on transgenderism.
        I love his comedy, and I even agree with his stance on the issue, but he's still just a fucking comedian.
        This is especially true for people like Oliver, because he makes all his political points interspersed with jokes, and gets all riled up.
        Then when you call him out on some bullshit it's all "I'm just a fucking comedian why are you acting like I have to live up to the same standard as the news".

    • This place used to post Salon stories all day long. I never liked their agenda.

    • "failed"? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DogDude ( 805747 )
      "failed"? You sound like the Shithole in Chief. Calling a popular comedian with a their own HBO show as a "failure" really just tells me that you, in fact, are an actual failure, just like the Orange Asshole.
    • "Failed?" John Oliver has a hit TV show that's renewed at least through 2020, a multimillion dollar salary, multiple Emmys and WGA awards, and at least one Peabody to his name. If that's your "failure" in your mind then, as Fezzik, would say, I do not think it means what you think it means.

      Also, your assertion that HBO is a subsidiary of DNC is demonstrably untrue. They are, in (a quite easily-verifiable) fact, a subsidiary of Time Warner which is, in turn, a publicly traded corporation and now a subsidi

  • Legal? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ( 4475953 )

    First, an ad blocker can and will block such scripts, too. Second, they are using someone else's resources without their consent. Is this legal? Or wire fraud?

  • When visiting the salon.com site; no anti-adblock warning appears, no cpu crypto-mining starts on my machine, no articles are inaccessible. Ublock Orgin in Hard mode with no site exceptions enabled. Nothing to see here
  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Monday February 19, 2018 @07:19AM (#56151170)

    Go ahead, mine something on my box. If the code is sandboxed - as should be the case with JS - and it doesn't slow to a grinding halt, I'm actually ok with that. But don't show me you annoying ads!

    In fact, make it the default! And give me the option to choose ads over mining. That would actually be a huge improvement IMHO. No joke.

    • except my laptop suddenly goes all sandstorm like Darude and then shuts down because the processor reached critical temperature...because I'm reading a website !!!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Freischutz ( 4776131 )

      Go ahead, mine something on my box. If the code is sandboxed - as should be the case with JS - and it doesn't slow to a grinding halt, I'm actually ok with that. But don't show me you annoying ads!

      In fact, make it the default! And give me the option to choose ads over mining. That would actually be a huge improvement IMHO. No joke.

      I’d have to agree with that and if people don’t want ads and they won’t pay for a subscription I’m OK with mining as long as they don’t use too many resources and don’t do anything malicious. It costs money to run a paper and no amount of hysterical shrieking from people who feel entitled to get everything for free is going to change that.

    • You're actually paying for it via a slightly elevated electric bill, making it an extremely inefficient way to transfer money.

      You -> electric company -> heat generated on your computer -> bitcoin -> website -> bitcoin exchange -> cash to website

      If you're ok with paying for the website you're visiting, just cut out everything in the middle, save your computer some wear and tear, and prevent a little bit of global warming by simply transferring money:

      You -> website
  • 0.0.0.0 salon.com
    there, that should fix it
  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @08:38AM (#56151384)

    I predict that a few years from now, web browsers will have crytocurrency handling as a built-in feature. There will be wallets for various cryptocurrencies, and a mechanism for this to interact with websites, with a browser-controlled UI controlling this. The browser will also have a 'mining mode' that users can toggle (or set to activate automatically when idle) which slowly fills up their wallet of choice. Go to a news website or whatever, and they ask for a microtransaction in whatever denomination, it comes from your wallet (if you accept the UI prompt). You can configure in the browser that site X can deduct amounts of up to Y per page, with a notification each time this happens. This'll be HUGE for porn sites, particularly with cryptocurrencies where encrypted blockchains are used.

    Wallet empty and you need some cryptocoins NOW? Handy link to a broker site with a referrer fee to the browser maker. The 'mining mode' will utilize your GPU or whatever, if available. You can configure it to only use up to X% of your CPU/GPU. Of course, the preferred cryptocoins will be those with fast transaction times and low fees, being mine-able might help, and encrypted blockchain will be preferable for some sites.

    • by stooo ( 2202012 )

      >> I predict that a few years from now, web browsers will have crytocurrency handling as a built-in feature
      Browsers are already slow enough.
      If you want to go worse, up to you, but probably most people will not go to browsers with incorporated hooks for malware.

  • Salon, for god sakes, is mining cryptocurrency on its readers' machines? The same Salon which believes that climate change is going to end the world is profiting on the waste of energy used to support PoW cryptocurrency? How can they possibly justify this and their left leaning viewpoint at the same time?

    • by swilver ( 617741 )

      For the same reason as why all our climate control efforts are going to fail. Profit and short term gain.

      Another Great Filter I'm sure, and I doubt we will pass it.

  • Site is paid for. I don't see annoying ads. If they don't have trackers in the ads, then this sounds like a win-win to me! Can I opt-in for other sites to do this?

  • Salon discovers that it takes money to run their operations. *GASP*

  • just what we need more plug in's to view websites.

    Back in the days the main ones where real / QuickTime / and flash + Shockwave.

  • It isn't using my GPU, just the CPU.
    That should be an awfully inefficient way to mine Bitcoin.
    I block ads because they insult my intelligence, often are outright fraudulent, if not just manipulative and track me across domains. I don't mind web sites monetizing some other way with informed consent, but really, other than as an experiment, I don't see this working out since people browse on underpowered ARM devices these days. Still, I would like to see the numbers on the economics if anyone has them.

  • Literal pedophilia apologists. Trash site is made even trashier.

  • ...if they were willing to split HALF of the bitcoin mining with ME. Otherwise you're wanting to use MY resources for YOUR GAIN!

  • I use ScriptSafe on Chrome and NoScript on Firefox.

    They are just ramping up the war against consumers. So consumers now need more armor.
  • by MMC Monster ( 602931 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @01:55PM (#56153002)

    It's the Ad agencies who should be worried.

    I wouldn't mind Salon and some other news agencies using my computers to mine for e-coins. Essentially it's a micropayment system in lieu of seeing ads.

    If this catches on, Salon may just rid of ads completely and use crypto-mining to generate money.

    The plus side of this is that the more you read the site, the more you pay. If you just go to them because of click-bait, you won't stay on their pages long and end up not generating a lot of money for them.

    Sounds like a win situation for the newspaper (they make money) and the reader (no ads). The Ad agencies lose out. But who cares about them?

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @03:48PM (#56153690) Journal

    Is there a way to check this? I'm pretty sure CNN, or one of their advertisers, is up to some funny business as the site is slow and eventually crashes its tab of Chrome when just left open.

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