Digital media publication Salon is offering its visitors an alternative to traditional online ads: allowing the site to use their computer processing power to mine cryptocurrency.
In order to provide free content, Salon primarily depended on advertisements to run its servers, the company explained in a blog post published on Monday. However, digital ads are insufficient to fully pay for most media outlets - the site noted that ad revenue fell $40 billion from 1999 to 2010 - and Salon, in particular, has decided to offer users a new option to pay for content.
Salon will profit by selling "a small percentage of [users'] spare processing power to contribute to the advancement of technological discovery, evolution and innovation," the company explained. While they don't come out and say it directly, the site, according to The Verge, is using the open-source CoinHive software in order to mine the cryptocurrency monero.
"The demand for computing power across many different industries and applications is potentially very high. We intend to use a small percentage of your spare processing power to contribute to the advancement of technological discovery, evolution and innovation. For our beta program, we'll start by applying your processing power to help support the evolution and growth of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies," the company wrote on the blog.
In contrast with the malware approach, which seeks to use as much of a computer's processing power as possible in order to maximize the return drawn from mining, Salon says it will eschew that by actively adjusting how much processing power is being used by their crypto-miner, explaining:
"We automatically detect your current processing usage and assign a portion of what you are not using to this process. Should you begin a process that requires more of your computer's resources, we automatically reduce the amount we are using for calculations."
However, the developers reportedly did not expect malicious actors to take advantage of the platform as much as they have. The developers preferred that websites are up-front about their use of the miner, according to a story from Motherboard.
Mining data image via Shutterstock