Chromium developers have been given the Chrome Web Store some much-needed attention as of late and this week, new policies have been put in place to crack down on extensions of the spammy variety. With more than 200,000 extensions available, the Chrome Web Store is the largest directory of its kind and with that type of reach, spammers will always look for ways to take advantage of users. This policy update is hopefully the first of many steps that Chromium developers will take to make the Chrome Web Store more safe and secure for its millions of users.
The new policies are intended to provide users with a more transparent experience when searching for and installing extensions from the Web Store. Many “fraudsters” will create copycat extensions that can look nearly identical to the official version in the hopes of grabbing sensitive data or other dubious activities. Developers are looking to curb these types of “spammers” with the following updates to the Chrome Web Store:
- Repetitive Content: We don’t allow any developer or their affiliates to submit multiple extensions that provide duplicate experiences or functionality on the Chrome Web Store.
- Keyword Spam: We don’t allow extensions with misleading, improperly formatted, non-descriptive, irrelevant, excessive, or inappropriate metadata, including but not limited to the extension’s description, developer name, title, icon, screenshots, and promotional images. Developers must provide a clear and well-written description. We also don’t allow unattributed or anonymous user testimonials in the app’s description.
- User Ratings, Reviews, and Installs: Developers must not attempt to manipulate the placement of any extensions in the Chrome Web Store. This includes, but is not limited to, inflating product ratings, reviews, or install counts by illegitimate means, such as fraudulent or incentivized downloads, reviews and ratings.
- Functionality: Do not post an extension with a single purpose of installing or launching another app, theme, webpage, or extension.
- Notification Abuse: We do not allow extensions that abuse, or are associated with abuse, of notifications by sending spam, ads, promotions, phishing attempts, or unwanted messages that harm the user’s browsing experience.
- Message Spam: We don’t allow extensions that send messages on behalf of the user without giving the user the ability to confirm the content and intended recipients.
These are just the latest updates to the ever-evolving policies list for the Chrome Web Store. You can find full details of Web Store policies here. For a closer look at the Chrome Web Store’s spam policies, check out the FAQ here. As Google hones down the Chrome Web Store, I have to wonder if it will become the one-stop-shop for everything we do on Chrome OS. If Android and Linux apps could be cataloged into the Chrome Web Store then installed using a unified app service, the Web Store would become a very powerful and versatile tool for all Chrome OS users. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.