Brave has been making a name for itself for the last couple of years. A modern browser based on Chromium, its various features are focused on limiting tracking from advertising and keeping the user’s private info private. So it’s no surprise that when one spotted an affiliate marketing link popping up in the auto-complete search bar, they cried foul.
Said user was “Cryptonator1337” on Twitter, who noticed that the browser was adding a referral code to the URL of cryptocurrency trading service Binance when the address is auto-completed in the URL bar. As it turns out, Brave adds its own referral code to several exchanges for Bitcoin and other currencies, like Coinbase, earning up to 20% kickbacks for services rendered when users go there with the link attached.
As free software focused on blocking ads, Brave monetizes in variety of less-than-obvious ways. Primarily it uses the Basic Attention Token, which redirects advertising dollars into an Etherium-based cryptocurrency, with payouts available to users of the browser itself. This being the case, it’s no surprise that the browser attracts fans of cryptocurrency, or that Brave would try to leverage that audience into some affiliate revenue.
To be clear, affiliate revenue in and of itself isn’t at issue: we use it right here on Review Geek, complete with FTC-mandated disclosure text in every article. The problem is that Brave added these revenue-sharing links without telling users—users already fairly sensitive to revenue-generating techniques.
Brave Software’s CEO responded by saying that there is a setting to disable the affiliate links, somewhat less-than-obviously hidden in the brave://settings page, and that it will be disabled by default starting with the browser’s next release.