Google updates Chrome Web Store policies to tackle spammy extensions

The Chrome Web Store offers a multitude of quality extensions for Chromium-based browsers. Google says that there are around 200,000 extensions in the Store. However, the store also contains numerous low-quality extensions that the firm calls “misleading”, ones that it terms “attempt to deceive and trick our users into installing them to make a quick profit”.

The company is now introducing updated spam policies to crack down on and maintain the quality of the extensions in the Web Store. The updated policies entail the following:

  • Developers or their affiliates should not publish multiple extensions that provide duplicate experiences or functionality on the Chrome Web Store.
  • Extensions should not have 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. Unattributed or anonymous user testimonials in the app’s description are also not allowed.
  • 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.
  • Extensions with a single purpose of installing or launching another app, theme, webpage, or extension are not allowed.
  • Extensions that abuse, or are associated with the abuse of, notifications by sending spam, ads, promotions, phishing attempts, or unwanted messages that harm the user’s browsing experience are not allowed. Extensions that send messages on behalf of the user without giving the user the ability to confirm the content and intended recipients are also not allowed.

The inclusion of policies that limit developers from submitting extensions that only serve as a way to install other offerings or that have malicious intents is a welcome addition. Earlier in January, the firm suspended paid Chrome Web Store extensions owing to a considerable rise in fraudulent transactions.

Developers have until August 27 to comply with the policies, after which the extensions that violate the policies will be taken down or disabled. Developers can also head here to read more about Spam policies.