Brave browser faces heat from users amidst referral-link autofill scandal
The Brave Browser has long been the search platform of choice amongst privacy-conscious users who are keen on avoiding the far-reaching privacy intrusions seen on traditional web browsers like Google. The browser has also provided utility to the BAT crypto token.
It is now, however, is now shrouded in scandal as some users accuse them of secretly redirecting users to their referral links when navigating to platforms like Binance, Coinbase, and others.
The co-founder and CEO of the Brave Browser has spoken out about the controversy, apologizing for the mistake while offering justification for the platform’s actions.
Brave browser redirects users to their referral link pages on popular crypto trading platforms
Earlier today, one Brave user on Twitter noticed that he was being directed to a referral link each time he attempted to navigate to Binance’s US exchange platform.
The user – who goes by the name Cryptonator1337 on Twitter – noted that the Brave browser autofills a referral link while entering “binance.us” and “binance.com.”
“So when you are using the brave browser and type in “binance[.]us” you end up getting redirected to “binance[.]us/en?ref=35089877” – I see what you did there mates.”
So when you are using the @brave browser and type in "binance[.]us" you end up getting redirected to "binance[.]us/en?ref=35089877" – I see what you did there mates ?
— Cryptonator1337 (@cryptonator1337) June 6, 2020
This means that users who navigate to this link in order to sign up for an account are unwittingly signing up using Brave’s referral link, helping the browser generate revenue from user’s trading activities.
“Yes, we partner with Binance as an affiliate. That code identifies us, not you.”
Yes, we partner with Binance as an affiliate. That code identifies us, not you.
— BrendanEich (@BrendanEich) June 6, 2020
Shortly after this was sent, Eich started a thread in which he explained the imbroglio, also apologizing – calling it a “mistake.”
“We made a mistake, we’re correcting: Brave default autocompletes verbatim ‘http://binance.us’ in address bar to add an affiliate code. We are a Binance affiliate, we refer users via the opt-in trading widget on the new tab page, but autocomplete should not add any code.”
The damage has been done: Community reacts negatively
Because Brave’s mission has been squarely centered around building trust with users, many now feel betrayed by the browser.
One user responded to Eich, noting that this was not just a simple mistake, but rather a “major blunder that is antithetical to the fundamental mission of Brave.”
“Hoooo boy – more scummy behaviour from Brave. For a self-proclaimed privacy-enhancing project it’s especially egregious and gross.”
The Basic Attention Token (BAT) – the crypto that is a big part of the Brave ecosystem – has declined by nearly three percent today, although it remains unclear as to whether or not this is related to the crypto community’s backlash against Brave.