TL;DR: Germany-based podcaster Cryptonator1337 discovered when using the Brave browser “and type in ‘binance[.]us’ you end up getting redirected to ‘binance[.]us/en?ref=35089877,'” a surreptitious, unknown to users, referral link to the popular exchange. It caused a public relations nightmare for the company that prides itself on transparency in such matters.
Brave Browser Caught Shilling Secret Binance Referral Link
“We made a mistake, we’re correcting,” Brave CEO Brendan Eich admitted after outrage posted on social media in response to the revelation. “Brave default autocompletes verbatim ‘http://binance.us’ in address bar to add an affiliate code. We are a Binance affiliate, we refer users via the opt-in trading widget on the new tab page, but autocomplete should not add any code.”
“I am the last one who has something against ref links,” Cryptonator1337 explained further, “but this seems a bit cringe when you think about [Brave’s] ‘mission.'” He also claimed to have attempted a similar maneuver “with a dozen other exchanges (derivatives & spot), nothing. Seems like this is a #Binance only thing.”
Thread commenter Kaefergeneral was more philosophical. “This has definitely been done by someone on purpose. But I actually like it, simply because it takes a cut of what Binance would earn in fees from people that intended to trade on Binance anyway. Every penny not ending up in Binance deep pockets is a good penny,” Kaefergeneral mused.
We Correct Course Quickly
Eich continued, “With Brave, we’re trying to build a viable business that puts users first by aligning interests via private ads that pay user >= what we make on fixed fee schedule, no browser data in the clear on any of our servers, and so on. But we seek skin-in-game affiliate revenue too.” Such relationships between the browser company and crypto exchange appear to be critical, according to Eich, who signaled ultimately, “Our users want Brave to live.”
Developer sp4ce passed along a quick fix in case Brave lagged in its response, “Right mouse click – inspect – on the top of the menu click Applications – then on the left in the menu ‘Clean Storage.’ And all your #reflink preferences are gone.” Snarkier responses asked disgruntled users to simply uninstall Brave altogether as punishment.
“The autocomplete default was inspired by search query clientid attribution that all browsers do,” Eich concluded, “but unlike keyword queries, a typed-in URL should go to the domain named, without any additions. Sorry for this mistake — we are clearly not perfect, but we correct course quickly.”
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