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Keeping spam off the Chrome Web Store

April 29th, 2020

Since the introduction of the Chrome Web Store in 2011, it has become the largest catalog of browser extensions with over 200,000 available to all of our users. This has helped millions of users to customize their browsing experience on Chrome in ways we could have never imagined, from niche utilities to companies building businesses around the platform’s capabilities.

In response, our abuse systems and review teams have been hard at work ensuring that the Chrome Web Store is free from abuse, as many of our developers have noticed an increase in review times lately. However, the increase in adoption of the extension platform has also attracted scammers and fraudsters introducing low-quality and misleading extensions in an attempt to deceive and trick our users into installing them to make a quick profit. We want to ensure that the path of a user discovering an extension from the Chrome Web Store is clear and informative and not muddled with copycats, misleading functionalities, or fake reviews and ratings. Therefore, in order to keep the quality of our inventory high and help users find what they want, we’re introducing some updates to our spam policy:

  • 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 new policy can be found in our updated Developer Program Policies.

Developers must comply with this policy by August 27th, 2020. After that date, extensions that violate the updated policy may be taken down and disabled. You can learn more about these changes and how they may apply to you in our Spam policy FAQ.

Posted by Rebecca Soares and Benjamin Ackerman, Chrome Policy and Anti-Abuse Team