Google Chrome to crack down on invasive, misleading ads

The next version of Google's Chrome browser will attempt to stamp out misleading and invasive ads from a shady group of websites.

The crackdown will target online ads that pose as system warnings, close buttons, and "watch video" icons, but actually trigger a flood of pop-up ads or an application download when you click on them.

The ads can certainly be annoying, but Google is also warning that fraudsters have been using some of the ads in phishing schemes to steal people's personal information. The company declined to elaborate on the suspected scammers and their activities. But on Monday, it said an update to Chrome will block all ads on a group of sites that have been bombarding users with the invasive tactics.

Google actually tried to block the pesky ads with an update to Chrome earlier this year. But in a blog post, Chrome product manager Vivek Sekhar said: "we've learned since then that this approach did not go far enough."

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"In fact, more than half of these abusive experiences are not blocked by our current set of protections, and nearly all involve harmful or misleading ads," he added.

Google didn't go into detail as to why the previous attempt to block the invasive ads didn't work. A company spokeswoman merely said: "There are always new ways to mislead users that may bypass our protections. Addressing these abusive experiences are also up to the site owner, who may not always be motivated to address these misleading ads."

Although Chrome has a built-in pop-up blocker, website owners can circumvent the protections by embedding code into their webpages that can redirect you to a new destination or open more browser windows. To stamp out the problem, Google has begun punishing websites offering the bad ad experiences.

The company can do this via Chrome, the world's most popular internet browser. Offending websites will get all their ads blocked by Chrome, preventing the website owners from generating revenue.

Google declined to name the websites it's targeting with the crackdown. But the blocking will take place via Chrome 71, which will launch next month.

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