Salon to use readers' computers to mine cryptocurrency

Salon to use readers' computers to mine cryptocurrency
© The Hill photo illustration

Media company Salon.com is asking readers to allow them to use their computers to mine cryptocurrencies as a new source of revenue.

The left-leaning company launched the test program on Monday and is targeting readers who use ad blockers, which it blames for declining revenues, the Financial Times reports.

Readers who suppress ads with a blocker now see a pop-up that asks them if they will give Salon access to their computers' unused processing power to mine digital currencies.

The pop-up is powered by Coinhive, which allows companies to run a program on users' web browsers to mine the cryptocurrency Monero, known for its privacy features and popularity on the black market.

"Back in the 1990s, as now, Salon offered the common relationship of serving ads to its users in exchange for keeping most of our content free. The principle behind this is that your readership has value both to us and to our advertisers," Salon said in a FAQ on the test program.

But Salon added: "ad-blockers cut deeply into our revenue."

If readers opt in, Salon will use their computers to do calculations allowing it to mine cryptocurrrency.

“For our beta program, we’ll start by applying your processing power to help support the evolution and growth of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies,” Salon explained on its website.

"We automatically detect your current processing usage and assign a portion of what you are not using to this process. Should you begin a process that requires more of your computer’s resources, we automatically reduce the amount we are using for calculations," the explanation added.

Salon said the process only takes place when readers are on Salon.com, and the website will not gain access to readers' personal information or files. 

The organization assured readers in its website's FAQ section that nothing is ever installed on their computers.

One FAQ asks "why are my fans turning on?"

Salon assures readers it is normal for computer fans to turn on when the central processing unit is working.