Readers told to mine cryptocurrency to read ads-free Salon magazine content

14 Feb 2018


News organisations have tried many novel ways to make readers pay - but Salon seems to have come out with the most audacious, yet.

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

Creating new cryptocurrency tokens requires complex calculations that consume a lot of computing power.

Salon told readers: "We intend to use a small percentage of your spare processing power to contribute to the advancement of technological discovery, evolution and innovation."

The site uses CoinHive, a controversial mining tool, recently used in an attack involving government websites in the UK, US and elsewhere.

However, unlike that incident, where hackers took control of visitors' computers for mining cryptocurrency, Salon notifies users and requires and the tool begins mining only with the permission of the user.

"I've opted-in to Salon's new revenue model using Coinhive," wrote security researcher Troy Mursch.

"100% of my CPU [central processing unit] is now used by them to mine cryptocurrency. As my computer slows to crawl and quickly begins to heat up, I struggle to navigate their website."

Salon told readers on an FAQ page on its website that the idea was part of a trial.

By roping in users' computers to mine Monero, a privacy-focused cryptocurrency currently 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.

Jordan Hoffner, CEO of the Salon Media Group, told Slate, ''Ad blocking is here, and isn't going to get any better. Right now there are a couple models out there to deal with it, and we wanted to see if there was another.''

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