Business

Media Outlet Salon To Use Visitors' CPUs To Mine Cryptocurrency

Media Outlet Salon To Use Visitors' CPUs To Mine Cryptocurrency

In a case a reader wants to block online ads, the United States online publication will use that person's computer to mine Monero, a cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoin.

Starting Sunday, Salon began offering its readers with a new option - either disable ad-blocker or let us use your computer to mine cryptocurrency while viewing the website.

Coinhive is a controversial mining tool that was recently uploaded to government websites by hackers. After the onslaught of the ad-blocking software, most of the media companies including Salon are flexing their muscles and seeking ways to compensate for the ad revenues.

By roping in users' computers to mine Monero, a privacy-focused cryptocurrency now worth around $240 per coin on digital currency exchanges, the publication seeks to encourage users who want to avoid seeing ads to instead subsidise the site's work with their personal computers' spare processing power.

While advertising is crucial to digital media, many users are opting to install ad-blockers to make their online experience a bit quieter. Salon's own FAQ admits that the processing-hungry service is likely to fire up a computer's fans to dissipate extra heat, like a demanding video game.

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Noisy fans screeching into action when you visit the Salon website?

Salon's "powered by Coinhive" pop-up. Lately, Monero has attracted a lot of criticism as it became the currency of choice for illicit activities in cyberspace. "In turn, Coinhive gives participating sites a tiny cut of the relatively small proceeds". But Salon said they will adjust how much processing power is being used by their crypto-miner. That is to say, if I return to salon.com during the same session, my computer will continue mining Monero.

We're not going to get into the ethical issues of coin-mining versus ad blocking, because we don't have the answers. Like Salon's proposition, some other projects, including Siacoin and MaidSafeCoin, seek to pay people for spare computing cycles or hard drive space. If you don't want to disable your ad blocker, maybe you'll feel comfortable letting it run code from Coinhive which will gobble up your computer's resources to mine some Monero cryptocurrency. "Nothing is ever installed on your computer and Salon never has access to your personal information or files".

To end the explanation, Salon makes a pitch that the "possibilities for [cryptocurrency] are limitless" including secure online voting, predicting the impact of climate change and finding alien life. "The principle behind this is that your readership has value both to us and to our advertisers".

Salon CEO Jordan Hoffner told Fortune that the new plan has several users already and the mining option is just one aspect of the company's monetisation strategies; another of which is a paid tablet and mobile app to come later in 2018.