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Google Is Updating Chrome to Protect Users From Being Redirected

A laptop user looking at an option page in the Google Chrome internet browser. Yui Mok—PAImages via Getty Images

Google is rolling out three major changes to its Chrome web browser that should help protect users from unwanted content like those unexpected redirects that navigate people to webpages they have no interest in.

Unwanted content is a big issue for Chrome users. Google says 1 out of every 5 feedback reports from Chrome users on desktop encounter this problem. So it’s making three improvements.

Third-Party Redirects

A URL redirects is when a user is unexpectedly redirected to a different webpage. These redirects often comes from third-party content embedded in the page, and the page author didn’t intend the redirect to happen at all, Google product manager Ryan Schoen wrote in a blog post.

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In the Chrome 64 release, all redirects originating from third-party frames will now show an information bar instead of redirecting, unless the user had been interacting with that frame. This will keep the user on the page they were reading, and prevent those surprising redirects, Schoen wrote. The Chrome 64 release is scheduled for January 23.

Pop-up Blocker Strengthened

Google is also closing a loophole that has allowed advertisers to get around Chrome’s pop-up blocker. For example, a user might click a link that opens to a new tab, while the main window navigates to a different unwanted page.

Once Chrome 65 is release it will be able to detect this behavior, trigger an information bar, and prevent the main tab from being redirected. The Chrome 65 release is set for March 6.

Abusive Experiences

Users are sometimes sent to unintended destinations that aren’t always easy to detect. For instance, this might include links to third-party websites disguised as play buttons or other site controls. It could also be transparent overlays on websites that capture all clicks and open new tabs or windows.

Beginning in January, Chrome’s pop-up blocker will prevent sites with these types of abusive experiences from opening new windows or tabs.

Google also announced it has launched an Abusive Experiences Report in the Google Search Console. Site owners can use the report to see if any of these abusive experiences have been found on their site and improve their user experience. Abusive experiences left unaddressed for 30 days will trigger the prevention of new windows and tabs, Schoen wrote.

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