While visiting Fox News (www.foxnews.com) tonight the image below kept popping up in Google Chrome:
Obviously, I appreciate Chrome asking me whether or not to allow the web site to store information on my computer. Questions, obviously, remain:
- What does Fox News want to store on my computer with Google Gears?
- Why does Fox News think that this is necessary?
- Is it one of Fox News “carefully selected partners”? If it is, why does Fox News allow their partners to “store information” on my computer?
Without more information about what Fox News is attempting to do I’m always going to say “Deny” to these sorts of things.
This is new behavior. It isn’t something I’ve ever seen from Fox News. I haven’t seen any other web site attempt to use Google Gears to “store information” on my computers. Running a Google search for the phrase “The website wants to store information on your computer using Gears” doesn’t yield any useful information. Either the issue happens infrequently or no one except me cares when websites want “to store information” on my computer.
Based on Matt’s comments below I did a little digging. Loomia is a “content recommendation engine” (company, Wikipedia article). It’s certainly a reasonable theory as to the source of the Gears popup. I’ll still probably continue denying the request to store information without further details as to what is being stored.
The interesting thing now is that other browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox are not showing a similar warning. Is there some code behind the Loomia widget that behaves differently when Chrome is detected as the browser?
13 thoughts on “Fox News Using Google Gears to Save Data”
Gears (formerly known as Google Gears) is being used by FoxNews so they can offer the news to your computer, and you don’t necessarily have to be connected to the Internet. This allows business people who travel, to still stay current. This also diminishes the number of hits to FOXNEWS server, which is astronomically large during the daytime hours.
It’s possible they may not have changed a thing? I run the platform for the site blogs.harvardbusiness.org – and when I pulled up a page today the same message started appearing (I use Chrome as my browser almost exclusively). Since I can confirm that we’ve changed nothing on our end, I have to admit the possibility that this is one of those rare Google blunders and that the message isn’t supposed to appear at all. You’d think they’d have fixed it by now, though. I’ll continue to hunt for more info – this post is the only piece of info that’s popped up in google search so far having anything to do with this mystery.
So some more info for you we just found internally – both Foxnews and our site use a 3rd-party “content recommendation engine” called Loomia. You’ll recognize it on their article pages (and ours) as a widget with a list of 5 or so other article titles under the rubric “people who read this also read”. We are currently attempting to resolve this issue directly with Loomia.
Matt, thanks for the info. I’ve hit the Fox News web site with a couple of other browsers (IE & Firefox) and they don’t bring up a popup about Gears.
(I apologize for this third comment, but felt I needed to clarify what I said: we found on our test site that, by removing this Loomia widget, the message about Google Gears no longer appeared – so it is on that basis that we are working with Loomia to identify the cause of the issue, which we presume at the moment is on their end with an “invisible update” they might have made to their code overnight.)
No problem – we’ve also confirmed on our end that Chrome seems to be the only browser population affected (which makes sense – Chrome comes pre-packaged with the Gears plugin; Firefox and IE users would have to download it and install it separately – so theoretically there could be some non-Chrome users affected, but I imagine it’s a very limited community and – at least as our site’s audience goes – has little overlap with our target users).
The last people on Earth I would want storing information on my computer is Fox news. I would appreciate it if they’d stop asking.
Jeff, at least Chrome is making Fox News ask first. IE and FF are not.
Closing the loop on this – Loomia has “fixed” their widget so that it no longer attempts whatever operation was causing Chrome to solicit the user’s permission. I expect it means all sites that use Loomia recommendations (including ours and FoxNews, but also Time and many other high-profile sites that I later visited with Chrome, that were exhibiting this dialog prompt) are now free of this warning in Chrome.
That said, their solution was “Chrome-only” in that they only disabled the loading of the offending code in Chrome.
Whether it still loads (or ever loaded at all) in other browsers is still an open question; that neither IE nor FF throws a warning indicates that what Loomia is attempting does not trip any of the normal security profiles in those browsers, and therefore can’t be too different than setting a cookie (or, more optimistically, just isn’t happening at all because those browsers just don’t support what Loomia is doing – and they simply fail quietly instead).
Matt, thanks for looking into this and following up with your vendor, Loomia. Let’s hope that what they were attempting is/was no more innocuous than saving a cookie.
search.yahoo.com wants to store information on my computer using Gears. I’m using Chrome and this box has come up several times in the last few days on various websites.
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