Salon will use readers’ CPUs to mine Monero

Searching for new revenue in the cash-strapped and ad-blocked world of media, the blog is turning to the new hotness: Cryptocurrency mining.

Hotness is very literal in this case, by the way, because any time you visit Salon from now on, your CPU will be used to mine cryptocurrency on their behalf. Your processor will heat up as more than half of your CPU power is dedicated to the task while the computer’s fans fire up to keep the temperature under control.

It’s not clear what the limit on Salon’s CPU usage is and Salon did not respond to questions.

“Recently, with the increasing popularity of ad-blocking technology, there is even more of a disintegration of this already-tenuous relationship; like most media sites, ad-blockers cut deeply into our revenue and create a more one-sided relationship between reader and publisher,” Salon’s website explained.

Salon says about 25 percent of its audience blocks ads.

When a person visits Salon with an ad blocker, a pop up appears asking the person to either remove the ad blocker or allow cryptocurrency mining to occur. A third paid app option is listed as coming soon. If you click “learn more” to find out about the cryptocurrency mining, your computer immediately begins working for Salon before anyone can knowledgeably opt-in.

Cryptocurrency is “mined” when computer processors complete a series of complex math problems. The more processing power put to the task, the more cryptocurrency is created. Salon is mining the privacy-focused cryptocurrency Monero.

Salon uses Coinhive, a piece of software often thought of as malware because it’s regularly used by hackers to push cryptocurrency mining into hapless victims without asking permission. Of course, Salon is up front with its consent, but this is still a big step that no other major media company has taken so far.

Salon’s FAQ page addresses questions like “Why are my fans turning on?” and “How does Salon make money by using my processing power?”

To end the explanation, Salon makes a pitch that the “possibilities for [cryptocurrency] are limitless” including secure online voting, predicting the impact of climate change and finding alien life.

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