Salon is the first major website to install CoinHive, a web app frequently used to defraud website readers by harnessing their computer’s processing power to mine for cryptocurrency.
With the widespread adoption of ad-blocking software, Salon—like other websites—is seeing a loss of ad revenue. To counter its declining numbers, the publication offers readers the option to either disable their ad-blocking software or “suppress ads” by “allowing Salon to use your unused computing power.”
Salon couches its use of CoinHive in vague terms, explaining in a runabout way that “Salon is instructing your processor to run calculations.” Following a lengthy, useless explanation of their seemingly altruistic use of the technology, Salon states that it is “applying your processing power to help support the evolution and growth of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.”
In simple terms, Salon runs up your electricity bill and potentially damage your computer parts for profit. Given Bitcoin’s massive carbon footprint, Salon shouldn’t complain about climate change ever again.
Salon, which previously hosted articles sympathetic to pedophiles, now has yet another thing in common with a pedophile—one who was, only earlier today, outed for using CoinHive on his video game community websites.
CoinHive is currently blocked as malware by several Internet security firms, including Malwarebytes, which prevents the software from running due to abuse by thousands of websites. Earlier today, its creators even also expressed regret on Motherboard that they didn’t see it coming.
As noted by Salon alum and current Washington Post ad engineering director Aram Zucker-Scharff, it’s “not a great time to be implementing CoinHive considering that it came out on Salon less than 24 hours after this article hit,” referring to the Motherboard piece.
“I know that Salon has had a bad history with subscriptions (at one point editors were actually breaking their own paywall) but really, this is a better idea than asking for subscriptions? I don’t think so,” he wrote.
“Also it does not appear to be adapting to my computer’s attempt to use other programs at the same time at all,” added Zucker-Scharff. “It’s not dropping to give CPU or memory over to other programs at all, only to allow for use on its own site. Though it isn’t doing that well, it is causing its own videos to freeze.”
“Anyway, I can’t speak to the current mindset or business at Salon; but I wouldn’t have implemented CoinHive while I was there. Just based on performance considerations alone, without the ethical concerns (of which there are a number), and def not with this roundabout explanation,” he concluded.