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May 16, 2016

Google Plans To Start Blocking Flash In Chrome This Year

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Flash’s death has been slow and painful (not the superhero one, I’m talking about the software platform), and now Google is planning to deal it another blow. Google has detailed plans to start blocking most Flash content with Chrome, with the change targeted toward the end of this year.
Under its current vision, nearly every website would have Flash content blocked by default. Visitors would still be able to enable Flash content on a site-by-site basis, but they would have to specifically choose to do so. Chrome would display a prompt offering to enable Flash; if chosen, Chrome would remember to run Flash on that site for all future visits.
Only 10 sites would have Flash enabled by default — the “top 10 domains using Flash,” to avoid annoying people with too many prompts. Those include YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitch, and Amazon. But they’ll only have a one year exemption. After that, it sounds like they’ll have Flash blocked by default, just like everyone else.

Of course, this change still doesn’t fully remove Flash from Chrome. It’s still in there and still able to be widely run, so long as people keep giving it permission. Even so, disabling it by default still offers protections against unwanted and potentially malicious content. And it encourages web developers to make the switch to HTML5, so that people aren’t discouraged from leaving their site.

To further encourage that change, Chrome won’t simply be blocking Flash — it’ll be pretending like Flash isn’t even installed. So if a website has a backup HTML5 player, people using Chrome will see that, rather than a prompt to enable Flash.
Specifics of Google’s plan could still change. But the proposal notes that “the tone and spirit should remain fairly consistent,” even if details are altered here and there.
Google began enabling Flash blocking on a very limited scale a year ago, when it started “intelligently” pausing unnecessary content as a way to preserve battery life. That’s the default setting right now; this plan pushing things much further.
If you’re interested, you can already enable the settings that Google is planning to switch over to. Buried inside of Chrome’s preferences page (under privacy and then content settings), you can find an option called “let me choose when to run plugin content.” It’ll block all Flash content until you right click on it and choose to have it enabled.
Even Adobe doesn’t think people should use Flash any longer, so there likely won’t be a huge amount of pushback on Chrome’s changes. Flash is a menace on battery life and is continually found to have serious security flaws, so its eventual disappearance will be celebrated at every step.

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