Salon asks ad-blocking users to opt into cryptocurrency mining instead

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Media outlet Salon is testing an alternative to advertising: mining cryptocurrency through readers’ computers. If you visit the site with an ad-blocker turned on, you might see a prompt to either disable the blocker or choose a “suppress ads” option, as reported today by Financial Times and confirmed by The Verge. According to FT, the latter choice will let Salon put your unused computing power toward mining the cryptocurrency Monero, using a JavaScript-based mining tool from Coinhive.

Other sites have used cryptocurrency mining in lieu of (or in addition to) advertising. Sometimes, it’s done surreptitiously without users’ consent — The Pirate Bay admitted to secretly adding Coinhive integration last year, and hackers have planted mining malware on other sites. In this case, it’s an opt-in program; a spokesperson tells FT that testing started on Monday.

Cryptocurrency mining scripts can negatively affect system performance, since they’re running intensive calculations as you browse the web. But they also offer a way to recoup lost ad revenue without resorting to paywalls — something that sites like The Atlantic have done for visitors who are running ad-blocking software.

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