Google fights spammy extensions with new Chrome Web Store policy – Naked Security

Spread the love


Developers use a number of ways to breed extensions like a bunch of spam bunnies in Google’s Chrome Web Store, which is the biggest extension catalog online.

For example, sometimes they stuff the store with multiple extensions that do the same thing. Like, say, wallpaper extensions that have different metadata but provide the exact same wallpaper when installed.

Well, those developers can say goodbye to that and a slew of other run-arounds: on Wednesday, Google banned them in a set of new rules for the Chrome Web Store, which it published as a new Chrome Web Store spam policy within its Developer Program Policies.

Here’s an FAQ about the new policy, and here’s the full list of what’s now verboten:

  • Repetitive Content: No more copypasta! No more submitting multiple extensions that provide duplicate experiences or function. Besides the wallpaper example is data or format converters listed as multiple extensions – for example, Fahrenheit to Celsius, Celsius to Fahrenheit – that all direct the user to the same multi-format converter web page.
  • Keyword Spam: Google’s no longer going to put up with blabby, redundant extensions: specifically, those with “misleading, improperly formatted, non-descriptive, irrelevant, excessive, or inappropriate metadata, including but not limited to the extension’s description, developer name, title, icon, screenshots, and promotional images.”In other words, don’t stuff the description full of keywords, including brand names. The maximum number you can repeat a keyword is now five. To provide a longer list of brands or websites, developers can provide a link for users or embed the list in one of the extension’s promotional screenshots. No irrelevant information, either: for example, a sports team wallpaper shouldn’t include team stats and history in the extension’s description.Make it clear and well-written, Google said, and leave out unattributed or anonymous user testimonials: they’re no longer allowed in extension descriptions.
  • User Ratings, Reviews, and Installs: Developers are forbidden from manipulating their extensions’ placement in the Chrome Web Store by doing things like cooking up bogus downloads, reviews or ratings. That means you can’t review your own baby, and you can’t get reviews from other developers or people affiliated with the publisher.
  • Functionality: Extensions now have to have some purpose besides installing or launching another app, theme, webpage, or extension.
  • Notification Abuse: Google disallows extensions that bleat out spam, ads, promotions, phishing attempts or other types of unwanted messages.
  • Message Spam: The new policy prohibits extensions that send messages on a user’s behalf without the user confirming the content or the recipients.