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Google to block Flash in Chrome this year

Posted on May 16, 2016.

The demise of Flash has been a rather agonising and drawn-out affair. Now it seems Google is preparing to deliver yet another blow to Flash. The company has detailed plans in which it will start blocking most Flash content in Chrome. The change is due to come into effect towards the year’s end.


In the current iteration of the plans, almost every website will have Flash content blocked by default however, users would still have the option to re-enable Flash content. This would be done on a per-site basis. Chrome would display a prompt with the option to enable Flash for that particular website and then remember the user’s decision for any future visits to that website.


There are 10 websites which would be exempt from this blocking by Google. Those websites will be the top 10 domains currently using Flash, in order to avoid irritating the users with too many prompts. The list includes YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitch and Amazon. Although this exemption is only good for a year, after which they too will have Flash blocked by default like the rest of the websites. Chrome serves.


This change wouldn’t affect the ability of Chrome to serve Flash content. It will still be there, and be able to run if the user has granted permission to do so. Even so, having the default state set to disabled will protect the user from potentially malicious content and force the website to use newer technologies if they are available.

Chrome will not acknowledge Flash at all if it's turned off and the website uses HTML5 instead which is a more secure and up-to-date technology. This will ensure a better experience overall for users as a plus this also encourages developers to use the newer technologies. As an example if Flash is blocked for a website and Chrome encounters a Flash video it will always serve up an HTML5 alternative where available. The finer points of this plan are of course likely to change, however as the proposal notes themselves state – “the tone and spirit should remain fairly consistent”.


Google had already started blocking Flash content, albeit on a much more limited scale, a few years ago. They would “intelligently” pause unnecessary Flash content as a means to improve battery life. This is the default setting now, this plan would push that much further. You can already enable this setting yourself if you want to save battery life and improve your web security. Within Chrome’s preferences page, find Privacy and Content Settings and you should then find an option called “let me choose when to run plugin content”. Setting this option will block all Flash content unless you choose to have it enabled.


Adobe themselves don’t think people should be using Flash anymore. It’s unlikely there will be much if any backlash on Googles part since Flash is commonly recognized to be a battery life vampire and a consistent security threat with new exploits and flaws being discovered. Its eventual death will be celebrated at every step. 

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