If you choose to opt in, Salon says it will use a small portion of your computer’s spare processing power to mine the cryptocurrency Monero and it notes that you won’t have to install anything on your computer in order to let this happen. The site also says that it won’t have access to anyone’s personal files or information if they choose to opt in.
Salon’s mining efforts are powered by Coinhive, which created these sorts of scripts for exactly this reason. The Pirate Bay tried using it to generate ad-free revenue last year. However, while Salon is giving users an option to give up their computers to crypto mining, Coinhive’s scripts have been previously slipped into other unsuspecting sites. Showtime, Politifact and a slew of government sites have all unknowingly hosted the cryptocurrency miner in the past.
That a popular publication would choose to generate revenue through cryptocurrency mining seems pretty wild, but this could be a sign of things to come. Media outlets have consistently said they’re losing money from ad-blockers, and if Salon’s test is successful, more might follow its lead. If you agree to let Salon mine Monero with your computer, that setting will be good for up to 24 hours. After that, it will again prompt you to choose between your ad-blocker and the miner.