Google Chrome to block more Flash content

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 10, 2016
Updated • Aug 10, 2016
Google Chrome

Flash is a dying technology in its plugin-form, and Google plans to push Flash a bit further to the graveyard by making two Flash-related changes in future versions of Chrome.

The first change will block behind the scenes Flash content, which is usually used for page analytics and tracking.

When Google made detect and run important plugin content the default plugin loading behavior Chrome back in 2015, it exempted elements smaller than 5x5 pixels, and elements larger than 400px in width or 300px in height from that.

Back then you had to switch to "let me choose when to run plugin content" to block Flash entirely on the chrome://settings/content page.

Basically, what it meant was that some Flash elements were still loaded like before. The change announced today on the official Chrome blog removes that exemption.

Chrome Flash blocking

chrome block flash

Chrome will start to block these elements once the change goes live. This applies only to cross-origin plugin content, content that is loaded from third-party sites, and not the site the browser is connected to.

We would now like to remove this exception and instead not load tiny, cross-origin content. If the user has their plugin setting set to the default of "Detect and run important plugin content", the browser will not instantiate cross-origin plugin content that is roughly 5x5 or smaller or has an undefined size.

Chrome displays an icon in its address bar to indicate that plugin content was found but is not running. You may interact with the icon to reload the page with plugin content enabled, or use it to add an exception to Chrome's plugin whitelist to have plugin content loaded automatically when the site is visited in the future.

The change will go live in Chrome 53 according to Google.

The second change will favor HTML5 over Flash by making it the default experience in Chrome. When Chrome notices that a site supports HTML5 and Flash, it will request the HTML5 content automatically.

When a site supports only Flash for its content, Chrome will display a prompt to the user that allows for Flash content to be loaded on the site.

This change will be integrated in Chrome 55 which will be out in December 2016 according to Google.

Google is not the only company that pushes Flash out. Mozilla announced recently for instance that it will block Flash content used for fingerprinting in Firefox.

Google's move marks another step in the slow process of removing Flash in the web browser. The main reason for this is that while Flash is in a downwards trend, it is still used on many Internet sites.

Flash will continue to work in Google Chrome for the foreseeable future. The changes that Google plans to introduce later this year affect the default loading behavior only. Chrome users still have options to override most of it.

Tip: if you rely on Flash content, consider using a secondary browser for that.

Google Chrome to block more Flash content
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Google Chrome to block more Flash content
Flash is a dying technology in its plugin-form, and Google plans to push Flash a bit further to the graveyard by making two Flash-related changes in future versions of Chrome.
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  1. Pierre said on August 12, 2016 at 10:54 am

    In Canary, currently Version 54.0.2827.0 canary (64-bit), absolutely nothing has changed

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 12, 2016 at 10:56 am

      Well Canary is a work in progress which means that the changes may come to it later.

      1. Pierre said on August 31, 2016 at 7:23 am

        Yes but we are the 31st of August, Canary has version 55 and there still is absolutely nothing : no warning when a site uses Flash and no forced preference fot HTML5 when the site admits it
        I guess it will be later…

  2. kubrick. said on August 10, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    This is one of the fundamental reasons why i prefer using a browser which uses a separate flash plugin rather than having the flash integrated into the browser like chrome does.So if flash dies completely then i can simply remove the plugin.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 10, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      That’s a good point. You may turn off Flash in Chrome or Microsoft Edge though if you don’t use it, but that is not the same as removing it entirely.

  3. vosie said on August 10, 2016 at 8:33 am

    HTML5 is crap, because as oppsed to flash, you CAN NOT use click-to-play blocking for HTML5 videos. So every HTML5 video loads on every page. And this problem is even more serious on mobile devices, because it wastes the bandwidth, data plan, processing power and battery life. Plus, websites easily can track you with HTML5 videos. And you can’t do anything against these problems.

    The media.autoplay.enabled pref in Firefox is useless because it is not able to prevent the downloading of HTML5 videos.

    1. Pierre said on August 11, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      In Chrome you have an extension :
      disable HTML5 autoplay
      to block html5 videos by default

      In firefox, in about:config :
      to false (by default it’s true)

    2. anon said on August 10, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      Spam this for as long as you want to, it will still be a lie.

      1. vosie said on August 11, 2016 at 7:59 am

        It’s not my problem that you are ignorant and don’t understand the facts I said.

    3. Maelish said on August 10, 2016 at 2:56 pm

      For now I use the Disable HTML5 Autoplay plug-in. It works most of the time.

      1. vosie said on August 11, 2016 at 8:01 am

        It is not available for Firefox, nor Android and it does not block the downloading of HTML5 media.

    4. GunGunGun said on August 10, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      I’m sure we can block HTML5 video as well as audio tags, the problem is no one write such addon for us.

      1. vosie said on August 11, 2016 at 8:05 am

        Perhaps. Based on the fact that Firefox can block the script tags (Ublock Origin has a feature for this).

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