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Broken Chrome

After my post went viral, Google responded: “We’re sorry. There’s nothing we can do.”

TL;DR: I’ve been through hell trying to get my extension back to the Chrome Web Store after a takedown for trademark infringement. You can read the whole story in my previous post: “How Google obliterated my 4 year old Chrome extension featuring 24k+ users”.

I’m permanently removing my extensions from the Chrome store and closing my developer account.

When I first started writing my post, I didn’t imagine more than 200–300 people would be reading it. I wrote it as a statement to my Chrome Web Store experience and as an advice for developers who would consider developing for Chrome.

Things started to get out of hand when someone shared it on Hacker News and it all went uphill from there. Digg took over the next day and things exploded. It reached over 124k views, 1.3k recommends, in just 5 days.

The community response was overwhelming: “You are not alone!”

I received numerous messages of support, from users and developers, some sharing stories very similar to my own. I was amongst the lucky ones. My post got viral and for a few days the community generated an increasingly powerful voice. Google responded.

First response from the Chrome Team

My hopes were high at first. They seemed to offer me valid solutions to my issue. Later on, I realized the email was just a courtesy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful that James responded personally and tried to help me out as much as he could. I imagine his hands are tied.

From the exchange we had during the next days I slowly began to realize that I will never get my extension back on the store.

Google’s response

The rules set are simple: Once Google gets a takedown request, it will enact the takedown until the original complainant retracts its request. I’m guessing you can see the issue here:

If the original complainant doesn’t respond, there’s nothing you can do to reinstate your extension in the store.

Google acts as trial, judge, jury and executioner. You’re convicted without the possibility to defend yourself.

This takedown system has been abused by Facebook in the past. From all the messages I’ve received, this happens a lot. And if it can be abused by Facebook, I imagine it is abused by others. They just submit the claim and never look back. Google is washing its hands clean, passing the problem to the complainant and developers are left stranded.

I want you to think twice before creating a revenue stream based on the Chrome Web Store.

Developing for Chrome, as it stands right now, is a very risky business. There is a total lack of developer support, making it likely to receive little to no help if you have a problem. This could be easily solved by offering paid support tiers, like Apple does.

The copyright and trademark infringement system is a flawed one, skewed towards the complainant. The developer has no options available to defend himself if such an issue appears.

There isn’t any option left to circumvent the Chrome Store. Starting with Chrome 53, extensions cannot be side-loaded anymore.

Thanks for all your support, sadly there’s no happy ending here :(.




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Zeno Popovici

Zeno Popovici

I'm a front-end developer. @Graffino is my design and web development company. Find out more about me:

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