back to article Maker of Chrome extension with 300,000+ users tells of constant pressure to sell out

In the past nine years, Oleg Anashkin, a software developer based in San Jose, California, has received more than 130 solicitations to monetize his Chrome browser extension, Hover Zoom+. The latest of these proposals, which generally involve adding code from a third-party partner that gathers data or places ads, arrived by …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Our focus is on user privacy"

    That coming from an ad company.

    There are times when I regret that a response cannot be accompanied by a mandatory .44 Magnum, cocked and ready to fire when the response is read.

    1. simonlb

      Re: "Our focus is on user privacy"

      I'd expect the line before that one to contain the words, "Without prejudice". Otherwise it means absolutely nothing.

    2. b0llchit Silver badge

      Re: "Our focus is on user privacy" seems down at the moment. But you can use the wayback machine to view one of the all-time beauties how you are sure to become an internet gazillionaire:

      1. ShortLegs

        Re: "Our focus is on user privacy" has been down for years. Unfortunately.

        At least the Top 100 are still available via The Wayback Machine

    3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: "Our focus is on user privacy"

      Instead of down voting you Pascal, I will just extend F.O.C.U.S.

    4. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: "Our focus is on user privacy"

      Define user. In this case, the ad company would consider itself to be the user, whereas the extension users would be redefined as "victim."

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: "Our focus is on user privacy"

        Customers. It's customers, not victims.

    5. tatatata

      Re: "Our focus is on user privacy"

      Our focus is on privacy. Users should not have any privacy, so our focus is the privacy that they still seem to have and we will do our best to limit that privacy, or take it away completely.

    6. Woodnag

      44 Magnum?

      Really? Makes such a mess. .22LR much neater, and unless you use one of those NAA mini-revolvers, very controllable.

  2. DS999 Silver badge

    Like what happened Adblock plus on Firefox (I think that's what it was called)

    That started allowing whitelisted ads like 8-10 years ago. Clearly the developer decided to take the money and run.

    Fortunately uBlock Origin's developer has not been so greedy.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Like what happened Adblock plus on Firefox (I think that's what it was called)

      Yes, any adblocker that fails to block ads gets investigated very quickly, and likely replaced.

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Like what happened Adblock plus on Firefox (I think that's what it was called)

      allowing whitelisted ads is a user choice on ABP (on by default though), you can disable it and as far as I can find it doesn't actually share user data unless you explicitly allow this (off by default).

      1. usbac

        Re: Like what happened Adblock plus on Firefox (I think that's what it was called)

        The white list being on by default is plenty for me to drop it like radioactive waste. It shows that the author has the "selling out" mindset. It won't be long until you can't turn it off...

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Like what happened Adblock plus on Firefox (I think that's what it was called)

          The fact a whitelist was even added was enough for me, whether on or off by default. As you say it shows the author has decided to sell out. You can't be "only a little bit" of a sell out. It is like being pregnant, either you are or you aren't. The fact he wasn't "showing" his sellout status too much at first doesn't mean that won't change in another metaphorical eight months.

          Once you give in the greed and want to monetize something you had originally created as a public good you are likely to become more greedy in the future.

  3. Aitor 1

    Ruler redux

    I used to use a ruler for web dev.

    It got sold and malware was hot dropped.

    So it was forked into ruler redux.

    It was sold.. and again, malware.

    This would be solved if we knew who is signing the software. As we could just put them behind bars.

    Also, hot download of features? Nope.

  4. gedw99

    Moved to safari extensions

    Today I moved everything in chrome to safari.

    All the extensions exists and translate works great.

    Apple to creating their own Ad network but it’s a refuge for now .

    I have up on Firefox. They seem stretched to build decent sync tooling etc

  5. HMcG

    > Anyone with sizable audience in this surveillance economy is invited to stuff their add-ons with tracking and ads.

    I’m not saying this isn’t bad, but worrying about data-harvesting and tracking by Chrome extensions on Chrome seems like worrying about seasickness on the Titanic.

  6. martinusher Silver badge


    I seem to recall that this has been an ongoing problem from the earliest days of the web.

    What I don't quite get is how all this is supposed to generate a viable business. You make web pages unusable by filling them with meaningless tracking code and pointless advertising but it only holds together by a sort of Emperor's New Clothes phenomenon -- the entire ecosystem is held together by the belief of its participants because ceasing to believe would destroy a huge part of the Internet economy. So we as users are forced to endure this, being constantly exhorted to upgrade our hardware and software to support this festering mess.

    I don't see how it all works. The ads served up are meaningless. Like junk phone calls they only catch the unwary or the distracted. They don't sell anything useful. Maybe Elon Musk was onto something when Twitter's headcount was slashed -- all those technology workers were doing what, exactly?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gatorware?

      You are implying that capitalism and the profit motive can result in negative outcomes. Communist.

  7. tiago.pelicari

    I wonder how many AI chrome extensions are gathering all information from users.

  8. VicMortimer

    Privacy on Chrome

    You want privacy on Chrome?

    Step 1: Stop using Chrome.

    1. RyokuMas

      Re: Privacy on Chrome

      I must admit, the irony of the statement "I'm fortunate to have a job that pays well enough to allow me to keep my moral compass and ignore all of these propositions." coming from the developer of a Chrome extension did make me chuckle...

  9. xyz123 Silver badge

    Take the money to add malware to the extension. then simply don't.

    What are they going to do? sue you because you refused to break the law?

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      The problem with breaking a contract with criminals is that they have no problems breaking the law and a few bones if they find you. Best to simply avoid contact with those sorts of people as much as possible.

  10. Dizzy Dwarf

    I can't help but see ...

    ... "Anashkin Skywalker"

    Let's hope the dark-side is not too tempting.

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