The “Free” Ride is Over: Salon is Lending Your CPU Power to Mine

Liberal, San Francisco-based publication Salon has adopted a pretty, we could say, interesting alternative to ads to make more money. From this Sunday, they will start to use a reader’s computing power to mine cryptocurrency.

News organizations rely on advertising revenue to make ends meet, and often advise against readers using ad blocking add-ons to support the running of the site.

Readers that don’t want ads to appear on content now have an option to “suppress ads.” This allows Salon to use a reader’s unused computing power to mine virtual currency.

This, at least we could say, controversial decision will mine Monero, a privacy-focused coin. Of course it’s not just Monero – eventually, the company is willing to try mining more cryptos as well.

As the the online publication said on a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page: “Your unused processing power are the resources you already have but are not actively using to its full potential at the time of browsing Salon.com.”

For our beta program, we’ll start by applying your processing power to help support the evolution and growth of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. However, the possibilities for this sort of technology are limitless,” it continues.

Your spare computing power may go to solving the kinds of complex math problems that form the integrity of blockchains, but it can also be used for humanitarian and scientific projects such as helping research how proteins fold, to aid in biological discovery or helping pay for misdemeanor prisoners’ bail or see if we can better predict the impact of climate change,” it’s added.

They are also claiming that this spare computing power of yours can even “help analyze astronomical signals to figure out if extraterrestrials are trying to contact us. Some scholars have proposed using spare computing power to help secure voting and verify the integrity of democratic elections.”

Controversial or not , the thing is that Salon isn’t listed as a charity. Therefore, there is no ethical or legal requirement for Salon to provide free news. No website is free, that’s the fact, and any company that publishes news that you can read for “free” is actually paying thousands of dollars to keep it “free.”

Most media companies pay for these costs by hosting advertisements on their sites. But, most people nowadays are using adblockers not to spoil their online experience. Truth to be told, pages load quicker, and there are fewer ads to look at. Some companies are also charging for their content and that’s perfectly normal.

Strange as it may be, they are not the first with such business idea. Pirate Bay did exactly the same but they, however “forgot” to tell that to their users.

We saw a business problem, we saw a potential way out—potential being the key word—and we took it. “The coins will change over time as the demand for whatever currency changes,” Hoffner said. “We’ll end up building a portfolio of cryptocurrencies,” said Salon CEO Jordan Hoffner of the new revenue-generating plan. The mining option, which Hoffner says already has some users, is one of many ways Salon says it plans to monetize views.

What do you think: Is that a good idea or you’d rather switch to another media?

Teuta Franjkovic

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