Recently, a popular Youtuber, Tom Scott, who initially never even heard of The Brave Browser found out Brave was collecting money under his name and he was not happy about it.
Free money is always good right? Well, not in this situation.
Before we dive into his story, let’s briefly go over what is Brave.
Brave is a web browser that removes ads and ad tracking from the browsing experience. The browser itself is based off of Google’s open source project.
The browser is considered light-weight and super fast, mainly due to the fact that it doesn’t have ads.
Now, here’s the fun part. Instead of seeing traditional ads on your favorite sites, you can pay the sites that you visit with BAT, an Ethereum-based ERC20 token.
You can set a monthly contribution amount, and Brave automatically distributes BAT tokens to the sites you visit based on your user attention. In other words, how much time you spend on each site or however much you feel like donating to the site owner.
You can buy BAT on a third-party exchange such as Coinbase or Brave will give you BAT in the form of a grant.
Back to Tom’s story
Ok, now that you have a brief overview of The Brave Browser, let’s dive back into Tom’s story. Earlier this week, Brave rolled out a tipping banner feature for Brave publishers. This feature lets you tip the sites you visit in BAT tokens. You visit a site, and then when you click the “send tip now” button in the browser’s reward panel, a banner ad appears asking for your support.
See the picture below:
Brave works by automatically creating a record in its system for thousands of YouTube and Twitch channels, media outlets, and other domains, based on its users visiting those sites. Once Brave creates a profile on you, that’s it. You are in the system, and Brave’s users are able to send your donations in the form of BAT.
In other words, they’re collecting the donations on your behalf.
According to Brave’s terms of service, once Brave collects BAT tokens in your name, you have 90 days to pick them up. After that, unclaimed tips that originated as grants go back into the system to eventually get redistributed, while tips that came from user-funded tokens are frozen indefinitely.
When Tom first found out about this, he emailed Brave requesting that Brave refunds all the donations. Brave responded with the following: “I’ll pass your sentiments onto the team and we’ll see what we can do. Refunds are impossible since our donation system is anonymous, but I’m going to see if we can get your channel blacklisted from the system.”
When Scott did not get a response to his follow-up questions, he took to Twitter.
“I’m not sure what else I can do other than warn people away!” he said.
The next biggest question for most people might be, how do you know if you received any free BAT from donations? According to the project’s website, you can find out by verifying your domain through Brave. Otherwise, once Brave has accumulated $100 worth of BAT tokens on your behalf, the system sends an email to the webmaster and the registered domain owner of your site, based on WHOIS information. The email explains how to verify the ownership of your website.
Once Brave collects BAT tokens in your name, you have 90 days to pick them up. After that, unclaimed tips that originated as grants go back into the system to eventually get redistributed, while tips that came from user-funded tokens are frozen indefinitely.
It gets more tricky than this. Brave does not have a fully functioning native wallet. If you want to claim your “creator contributions,” you have to register with Uphold, a third-party wallet provider and cryptocurrency exchange service.
According to the the Brave FAQ, you can fund your Brave/Uphold wallet by sending bitcoin, litecoin, or ether to your wallet address. Once you do, those funds automatically convert to BAT. And once you have BAT in your wallet, you cannot move BAT out of your wallet. You can only use them on the Brave browser.
After the whole drama between Tom and Brave, Brave decided to make updates to their “donations program.” The platform now makes it clear whether a publisher has verified their domain. If a publisher is not verified, Brave includes a note in the tip banner that says, “This creator has not verified their site. As soon as they verify with Brave, they will receive your tip.”
The next update from Brave will be an opt-out feature, where you can choose not to receive donations.
Since the whole situation begun, Scott has sent Brave a formal right-to-be-forgotten request. Brave has one month to reply.