Google will take action against website history manipulation
Chromium developers plan to integrate functionality in Chromium that protects against history manipulation by websites.
History manipulation refers to sites adding pages to the browsing history, e.g. in the form of a number of redirects, when a user accesses a page on a site to make it more difficult to go back to the previous page or forward to the next.
Usually, what happens is that activating back once appears to do nothing or redirects the user to another page on the site.
Hitting back multiple times may appear to do nothing as well, may load another page on the domain, may load the previous page opened by the user, or may overshot and load a page further down the browsing history.
Chromium developers opened an issue for the misuse of the browsing history in 2016:
Annoying user experience on back navigation due to dummy fast-forwarding history entries
We've observed websites abusing (or misusing) History.
Typically, the History get stuffed with multiple dummy entries that fast-forward the user back to the page they wanted to leave.
Getting back to the desired history entry is extremely hard:
- Because of the instant fast-fowarding nature of the dummy history entries, the user can't wait for a visual confirmation to know when to stop hitting the back button.
- As a result, the user either overshoot or undershoot its destination resulting in guaranteed frustration.
Engineers added in September 29 that sites abused the history by inserting ads into it. Other sites would redirect users to their homepage using the functionality.
Google plans to implement redirection skipping functionality in the Chrome browser. The company plans to flag sites that exhibit the behavior and skip dummy entries entirely eventually in Chrome.
9to5Google reports that Google plans to hide the functionality behind the chrome://flags/#enable-skip-redirecting-entries-on-back-forward-ui flag initially before enabling it for all users in Chrome.
The flag is not yet integrated in Chrome, not even in Chrome Canary. Once integrated and enabled, Chrome will skip pages injected into the browsing history when users activate back or forward buttons in the browser.
Many users who open sites that manipulate the browsing history by stuffing dummy entries into it close the tab entirely to get rid of the issue.
Handling the issue is a bit easier on the desktop as long-pressing the back button will display previous history entries to jump to these right away. Another option that users have at their disposal is to open the browsing history in the browser to load a page manually using it.
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