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Google says it doesn’t want to prevent ad blocking on Chrome

The search giant tries to reassure software developers after a raft of criticism last month.

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Google responded to criticism about breaking ad blockers.

Getty

After Google announced proposed changes to its Chrome browser back in October, some software developers criticized the search giant because they said the changes could cripple extensions to block ads and improve security.

Though the changes, called Manifest v3, were first proposed last year, many developers began to notice -- and speak out against -- the changes for ad blockers last month. Last week, Google said it was revising the plan and sought to reassure angry developers.

"It is not, nor has it ever been, our goal to prevent or break content blocking," Devlin Cronin, a software engineer on the Chrome team, wrote in a Google Groups post last week (emphasis his). "We are committed to preserving that ecosystem and ensuring that users can continue to customize the Chrome browser to meet their needs. This includes continuing to support extensions, including content blockers, developer tools, accessibility features, and many others."

Manifest v3 is designed to improve Chrome extensions' performance, privacy and security. But the backlash over the proposed changes illustrate the problems that come with Chrome's scale and dominance. The browser, which has more than 1 billion users, accounts for 62 percent of website usage, according to analytics firm StatCounter.

"These changes are in the design process," a Google spokeswoman said in a statement. "We want to make sure all fundamental use cases -- including content blockers -- are still possible with these changes and are working with extension developers to make sure their extensions continue to work while optimizing the extensions platform and better protecting our users."

The post by Google's Cronin came after Ghostery, one of the ad blocker makers that staunchly opposed the changes, released a study last week that said the extensions would only impact the performance of Chrome by about a tenth of a millisecond.

However, a source familiar with the situation disputed the methods that Ghostery used in its study and said Cronin's post wasn't a response to the study.

Ghostery didn't respond to a request for comment.