Requests by websites to send out notifications about updates have become a thorn in the side of internet users. Google started to taken action to quieten them down in Chrome 80, and now the company is taking further steps.
While there are certainly occasions when notifications from websites can be useful, the notification ecosystem is also open to abuse. Having noticed that there are many sites that abuse the notification request system, Google is fighting back on behalf of users.
Like many of its users, Google isn’t too happy that some websites use requests for notification permissions as a barrier to content – if you don’t agreed to receive notifications, you can’t access the site.
There are also sites that use various underhand techniques to trick visitors into agreeing to receive notifications – such as display a fake webchat popup.
In addition to this, there are site that use fake notification permission requests to link to malware, or to link to phishing sites that try to steal personal information.
Starting in Chrome 84, which is currently undergoing beta testing and is due for a full release in the middle of July, Google is taking action against sites that abuse the system. The change affects both the desktop and mobile version of the browser.
Blocking the baddies
As part of its crackdown, Google is going to start minimising deceptive notifications. Only sites that fail the company’s abusive notification request check will be affected, and while Google says that only a “small fraction” of websites abuse notifications in this way, it say that it expects “the impact on notification volumes will be significant for some users”.
To start with, the minimising of notification permission requests will only apply to new requests from sites that have been deemed to be abusive. However, Google says that further down the line it may start to hide notifications from abusive sites even if people have already agreed to receive notifications from them.