News Site Gives Users ‘Choice’ To See Ads Or Mine Crypto To Support Company

American news outlet Salon is now offering visitors the bizarre option of either disabling their ad blockers or allowing Salon to access a visitor’s “unused computing power”, a veiled way of apparently asking users to allow Salon to mine cryptocurrency via the user’s computer.

Salon frames its request to users around supporting the company, stating in a pop-up on the site “[w]e depend on ads to keep our content free for you”. The site also informs visitors that if users choose to let Salon access their “unused” processing power, said power can be used for a variety of humanitarian and scientific projects, from Blockchain technology to analysis of signals from space to see if extraterrestrials are attempting to make contact.

If one opens with an ad blocker running, the following message will pop up:

Screen Shot

Clicking on the “learn more” about the Suppress Ads beta option, Salon begins answering visitors’ questions, starting with an in-depth explanation how revenue has been falling in the journalism industry.

If a user decides to opt-in to the Suppress Ads beta option, the user’s unused processing power will then be used by Salon to run calculations, a process described by the publication as similar to “borrowing your calculator for a few minutes to figure out the answer to math problems, then giving it back when you leave the site.” This sentence hyperlinks to a Salon article about the technology behind Bitcoin mining, while nowhere else in the FAQs are the words “Bitcoin” or “mining” mentioned…

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