updated 07:33 am EST, Mon January 20, 2014
Two Chrome extensions pulled under new Chrome Web Store rules
Less than one month after it introduced a number of Chrome Web Store rule changes, Google has removed two Chrome extensions from its store for spamming. Add to Feedly and Tweet This Page were both excluded from the store after complaints emerged that they were serving up unwanted advertising to their users, shortly after the extensions were sold by their original developers to another company.
Amit Agrawal, developer of Add to Feedly, revealed that the add-on had been sold for a four-figure sum, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that the new owner added advertising code into the extension a month later. Ars Technica reported that Tweet This Page had gone through a similar process of sale and ad-injection.
Chrome Web Store
Advertisers and malware producers are still looking for more extensions they can buy and exploit, with reports of other developers being approached for a potential sale. Developers of the Chrome extension Honey received offers from various companies to buy the extension or user data, though the development team resisted the offers. A Firefox extension by the name of Autocopy was bought out last year, with the add-on changed to track the browsing habits of their users, proving that the issue is not only limited to Chrome.
It is believed that Google removed the two extensions under the new Chrome Web Store rules, which state that extensions must have a single purpose. Injecting ads is in theory allowed, but the extension would only be allowed to do that if it did not do anything else, with Google advising that developers using injected ads as a way to earn off a free extension should look to other funding routes. While the changes are active to new extensions, existing extensions such as Add to Feedly and Tweet This Page had up until June this year to make changes, though the added pressure from the Wall Street Journal likely accelerated the adoption for the two add-ons.