News Outlet Salon is Mining Monero as an Alternate Revenue Source

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Salon is the latest company to utilize CoinHive’s Monero mining script on their website.

On Sunday, when readers utilizing ad-blockers visited popular news site Salon, they were faced with an interesting choice, foreign to the usual inquiry about disabling their ad-blocker. They could either disable their ad-blocker to continue to view content or opt-in to allow Salon to utilize their computer processing power to mine cryptocurrency. This is done using CoinHive’s embeddable script on their website, which is a JavaScript miner for Monero.

In a blog post published the other day, Salon explains that diminishing ad revenue due to ad-blockers has led them to seek alternative means of monetizing their content. They also see the power in utilizing computer processing power over “reader’s eyeballs” for value-driven returns.

Salon is mining digital currencies (for our beta, Monero).  To do that, we are instructing your processor to run calculations.  Think of it like borrowing your calculator for a few minutes to figure out the answer to math problems, then giving it back when you leave the site.

Part of Salon’s pitch also included a very blockchain-positive spin, in which they frame their initiative as a contribution “to the advancement of technological discovery, evolution and innovation.” They continue in the post to explain how the script is only leveraged on their website, and isn’t active after the user leaves the site. They also mention that user privacy is fully protected in the process, and by utilizing a cryptocurrency miner, less information is taken from users as opposed to traditional web advertisements.

The Ethics of Implementing CoinHive’s Script

Salon has taken the more ethical route when implementing a cryptocurrency miner by allowing users to have the choice of whether or now they wish to disable their ad blocker, or lend their spare processing power to help secure the Monero network. Scandals in the past have mostly been driven by companies implementing CoinHive’s script without first alerting users of whether or not their processing power is being borrowed for the sake of the website making a quick bit of money on the side.

What originally drew attention to CoinHive was an experiment carried out by popular torrent index The Pirate Bay back in October when they were found to be using the script. Since then, malicious actors have leveraged the script in various forms of newly-named “cryptojacking” schemes, in which users are advertently duped into mining Monero for the propagators.

However, it isn’t just businesses that are leveraging CoinHive’s script to cover operational costs – a few charities have begun to use it as well. Bail Bloc, a charity dedicated to ending domestic bail issues, CPU For Good which seeks to free enslaved individuals in Pakistan, and Mine For Charity have all implemented CoinHive scripts for their philanthropic ventures.

The approach Salon has taken has been quite transparent, and could be a great starting point for an ethical implementation of cryptocurrency miners on websites for revenue.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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