Fix Chrome 72 extensions not working correctly (e.g. adblockers)

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 18, 2019
Google Chrome

Chrome 72 has a confirmed bug currently that affects a small part of the overall population that uses the stable version of the browser.

Affected users may notice that extensions that work with connections, e.g. content blockers, work incorrectly on some sites.

The issue was reported on February 13 on the official Chromium bug listing site. According to the report, most requests from a Chrome 72 browser were not intercepted on some sites such as Gmail while blocking worked fine on others.

Extensions with confirmed issues are uBlock Origin and Mailtrack. Most content blockers are probably affected by the issue.

It turned out quickly that a variation of the Chrome configuration was responsible for the behavior. Google runs so-called Field Trials in Chrome to test new features and changes.

You can list all variations of a particular version of Chrome by loading chrome://version/.

The Field Trial responsible for the issue is called Network Service by Chromium engineers.The Network Service "makes network requests through a separate process" according to Google.

Google fixed the bug in Chrome 73 Beta but won't bring the fix to the current stable version of Chrome. In other words: Chrome 72 users who experience the issue need to find another way to resolve it.

Google suggests to upgrade to Chrome 73 Beta or disable the experiment. Considering that most users may not want to upgrade to a beta browser, here is how you disable the feature right now in Chrome 72:

  1. Load chrome://flags/#network-service in the Chrome address bar.
  2. Set the experiment to Disabled.
  3. Restart Chrome.

The issue should be fixed in Chrome Stable after the restart. Try connecting to Gmail or any other site that uses web workers to test if that is indeed the case.

Google decided not to stop the rollout of the experiment or roll it back.

At this point, if this is the only breakage in the experiment we're not rolling back. The reason is that as a relative percentage of users of Chrome, this is still small (e.g. less than 0.1%). When launching multi-year projects that impact a large part of the codebase, it's impossible to avoid any regressions. We have to balance making forward progress and avoiding other regressions creeping in with breaking some edge cases. The best way for extension authors to avoid this is to use dev/beta channels.

Google stating that extensions authors could avoid issues like the one experienced by testing against Dev and Beta versions is misleading in this case considering that the experiment might not even have been enabled in a particular version of Chrome.

While less than 0.1% of all Chrome users seems relatively low, it could still affect hundred of thousands of users.

Now You: Did you run in the issue? Should Google change its approach to tests?

Fix Chrome 72 extensions not working correctly (e.g. adblockers)
Article Name
Fix Chrome 72 extensions not working correctly (e.g. adblockers)
Chrome 72 has a confirmed bug currently that affects a small part of the overall population that uses the stable version of the browser.
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  1. Jason Meaden said on June 7, 2019 at 1:42 am

    Starting from v66 the Chromium engine has gone downhill fast. Way too may bugs and too many things breaking. Now our apps don’t even work at all… just a black screen and they crash.

    It’s pretty much over… no support, no bug fixes, nothing. :(

  2. Mark said on February 25, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    My update to version 72 broke Roboform. Making the changes outlined above solved the issue (missing icons).

  3. Tom said on February 19, 2019 at 4:34 pm
    Reply Ublock does not work on this site with this “feature” enabled… A way to see the future as envisioned by our almighty browser provider. Cpu fires up ads comes from everywhere with imbeded links and other nasty javascript hidden “jems”…
    Ghacks is the site to come concerning Chrome woes!

  4. Anonymous said on February 19, 2019 at 3:52 am

    CIA = Chrome Installation Agency (Google)

  5. Anonymous said on February 19, 2019 at 1:20 am

    Thank you so much this solved the problem! My chrome couldn’t load websites while other browsers can (IE, Edge). Chrome task manager showed “network service” keep loading so I googled “chrome not loading”, “network service” and it brought me to this page. I thought my computer was infected with some kind of Chrome targeted malware. damn you gooogle!

  6. Weilan said on February 18, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    I’m using Chrome Stable x64 with:

    – uBlock Origin (all filters enabled)
    – Privacy Badger
    – Poper Blocker

    and so far I haven’t encountered a website that’s showing me ads.

    1. pd said on February 18, 2019 at 7:05 pm

      poper blocker is spyware

      1. Weilan said on February 18, 2019 at 11:09 pm

        @pd I think you’re right. I remember reading about it here on Ghacks and how the extension was removed from Firefox’s extension store. Then I saw it come back to the store so I figured the developer removed what was spyware from it.

        I just checked and it’s gone from Firefox’s store, but it still remains in Chrome’s store. I remember recently installing it so I’m guessing it was also recently removed from Firefox’s store.

  7. chesscanoe said on February 18, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    I suspect my experience with uBlock Origin is irrelevant to the article since I use only Chrome beta for a long time, and even with the latest Version 73.0.3683.39 (Official Build) beta (64-bit), uBlock Origin does not automatically update. I have to periodically manually check if there is an update, and if so, I manually delete uBlock Origin and then manually install the newest version. Anyone else see this behavior?

    1. zer0 said on February 18, 2019 at 7:01 pm

      I’m on a Dev build of Chrome and using dev build of UBO.
      No issues, everything works and updates fine.

    2. ilev said on February 18, 2019 at 6:58 pm

      Me too.
      I don’t see this as a big problem.

  8. zakius said on February 18, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    there’s much more wrong with chromium extensions API and most of it can’t be fixed with a mere flag unfortunately

  9. 420 said on February 18, 2019 at 4:35 pm

    luckily we still have ungoogled chrome or as I call it UnFuckled Chrome.

  10. WorknMan said on February 18, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    I don’t use Chrome as my primary browser, but if I did and ad blockers didn’t work, I’d consider the whole browser broken. For me, that is a showstopping bug.

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