I’ve been using Brave browser beta as my default web browser for a few years now, since hearing about it on the The Changelog Podcast. I’d been a die-hard Firefox fan for years before (and I still use if for my web development work) mostly because I liked the idea that Firefox wasn’t after my personal info and I just preferred the UI and settings. But Brave’s philosophy of a private, secure, fast, and financially sustainable web caught my attention.
There’s something fundamentally broken about ads on the web. We’ve been trained to expect basically any website to be free and have mostly forgotten how those sites can be free. Our interest is the product those websites are selling to advertisers. Ads often carry privacy and security concerns, slow down loading, and generally detract from the user’s experience. No wonder lots of people have ad blocker plug-ins installed in their browsers. But of course that breaks the business model for those ad-supported websites.
Brave’s idea is different. The browser can block ads but it can also show you ads. Let me explain. You can opt into having ads shown to you as OS-level notifications. These are provided through the Brave browser, not directly from the advertiser, and tailored based on the interests that the browser on your computer determines – no sending your info up to some server. The advertisers pay something to Brave and also to you. Yes, you! The “money” you get is in the form of Basic Attention Token (BAT), an Ethereum-based cryptocurrency.
The other side of this is that content publishers can sign up with Brave to earn BAT from various platforms, such as a website, YouTube channel, Twitter account, etc. People using Brave can set up a certain monthly amount of BAT to divvy up between the places they visited that month. Plus people can also make one-time tips of BAT from a publisher’s website, YouTube channel, etc.
As of writing this on March 26, 2021 the statistics are pretty good for BAT (from basicattentiontoken.org):
- 25.4 million monthly active users
- 9.2 million daily active users
- 1 million verified creators accepting BAT
According to Wikipedia, Brave was released January 20, 2016 and as of February 2021 has over 25 million monthly active users. Keep it up, Brave!