Brave browser

Brave is a web browser built on the Chromium source code. Online you’ll find a lot of randos singing its praises as a “privacy-focused” browser, but there are a number of shady things about it that mean I would never really consider using it.

The first of these is that it’s a browser that really, really pushes cryptocurrency on you. The browser has an integrated “wallet” that seems to work with Ethereum, and they also have a dodgy “rewards program” that pays out in crypto. As someone who hates cryptocurrency bullshit I would never use a browser that promotes it like that.

So, their dodgy “rewards program”. Basically, the browser comes with an in-built ad blocker (one that is apparently not as good as uBlock Origin but w/e, what is?), which is fine and good. However, they give you the option to turn on extra ads – their ads – and they’ll reward you with some crypto tokens called “BAT” for viewing them. Apparently they take 30% of the ad revenue from that and distribute the remaining 70% as “BAT”. This system is basically their entire revenue stream, although they’ve also received a lot of venture capital from the usual sort of techbro.

With your “BATs”, you can choose to sell them back into “the market” in exchange for real money, or you can opt to distribute them automatically to content creators as you browse the web, or you can opt to pay “tips” manually. These latter two options obviously only work if content creators have registered their details with Brave, the company, in order to receive the tips. Originally, controversially, Brave would collect donations anyway regardless of whether content creators had actually signed up to their program, and would simply keep the money if the creators didn’t take part. In response to criticism they subsequently changed their system, and now they will refund users’ “BATs” after 90 days if a creator they donated to had not signed up to Brave’s program.

When Brave was first released, they were also criticised pretty heavily for their system of just replacing websites’ actual ads with ads of their own, that they content-injected into the webpages you visited. Not sure whether they still do this; the Wikipedia page for this browser seems to imply that if you choose to view Brave ads, they appear in their own tab/window now.

In late May 2022, they creeped out a bunch of people by sending personally-addressed junk mail en masse to advertise their browser (see Nitter thread(external link)). Brave’s representative in that thread seems to have missed the mark with their insistence “but we didn’t see your private details, only our marketing partner did”. The Reddit thread linked from there seems to suggest their “marketing partner” was just the USPS, so not actually some slimy data broker, in the end. It’s not a fabulous look, though.