Google is reducing the number of unwanted Chrome notifications you receive by blocking notifications from websites the company considers “annoying.”
There’s no question that notifications in Google Chrome – and the web in general – are a problem right now. Some days, almost every website seems to try to browse through prompts for permission to send you notifications, often without clicking any button.
Google has already made some progress on this issue in recent years, ‘hide’ notifications from websites that misuse notifications or misleadingly request permission. When a site is silenced in this way, Chrome also warns that the site may be trying to trick you.
The company is now trying a stronger approach to combating unwanted notification messages. According to a new code change, Chrome will soon be able to automatically revoke a website’s permission to send notifications and block any future attempts to request permission.
The main difference here is that even if you accidentally allow notifications from a malicious site, Chrome will step in and stop those notifications completely. In comparison, Chrome’s current protections are only designed to convince you not to grant this permission, leaving the choice up to you.
This shouldn’t affect the vast majority of websites that send notifications through Chrome today, only those that Google considers “annoying”. It is not clear if this will differ from the current list of sites whose notification claims have been silenced or if this is a separate method of deterrence. From what we can see so far, it appears that the feature is only intended to keep Chrome free of spam.
One tricky aspect is that this effort would put Google in the role of moderating/monitoring the web, being the one deciding which websites can send notifications and what they can’t (at least to the Chrome browser). Google has already moderated the web to some extent with Chrome’s built-in Safe Browsing features that prevent access to malicious websites. And like Safe Browsing, the notification blocking protection will likely be disabled through Chrome’s settings.
Google’s justification is that these types of disruptive notices violate the company’s Developer Terms of Service, which state that Google APIs are not used to send any form of spam. However, notifications in Google Chrome are powered not by Google’s own API but by an open web standard that most browsers have supported for nearly a decade.
In a statement, a Google spokesperson stressed the need to protect Chrome users from the many rampant forms of spam on the Internet.
Reporting spam is one of the most important complaints reports we receive from Chrome users. This feature focuses on addressing this issue by making sure that users only receive relevant notifications. We see this work as acting on behalf of users to protect their interests, and it is an intervention that is under the user’s control and discretion.
Since development on Chrome’s spam blocking protection has only just begun, it should be a few months before it becomes widely available.
In general, it seems that this will have a positive effect on the Internet for the vast majority of people. We’ve relied on this type of protection for many years now, with spam filters for our texts and emails. It would only make sense for Chrome to automatically block similar annoying/harmful notifications.
There is certainly an argument to be made about Google’s position in deciding who can and cannot use their browser features, as well as possible discussions about Chrome’s role/duty as a “user agent”. However, for the average person who just wants to browse the internet without being bombarded with unwanted Chrome notifications, this is an entirely positive change.
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