Brave is a browser of many contradictions

Garikai Dzoma Avatar

Nobody needs to tell me about how ads are bad and how they break the browsing experience. If you hate ads, especially popup ads, you should know that things are better now. Before extensions like Adblock Plus became popular the internet was like a Wild-West with spammy advertisements launching a dozen popup windows as soon as you landed on the home page of some sites. Videos autoplaying everywhere and it would sometimes take you five minutes to get a handle on things. It was a nightmare.

Now thanks to the advent of Adblock the advertisement industry has come up with standards that publishers can use without ruining things for their readers. In an ideal world we wouldn’t need ads but unfortunately in countries like Zimbabwe programs like Adsense are still the easiest way to monetise online content so just about every site or blog you visit has them.

The rise of Brave, a privacy focused browser

It’s not just popup ads that annoy people. You also have creepy companies like Facebook and Google following your every move on the internet. They know what you have been up to and use this information to offer tailored ads. Worse still, sometimes they sell this information to third parties. So we have seen a rise in privacy extensions for browsers too.

That is the vision upon which Brave browser was born. It’s easily one of the fastest-growing browsers on the internet. They claim to be a privacy-focused browser. It’s easy to see what Brave is all about. Instead of you having to install Chrome, install Adblock, tweak privacy settings and so on you can just install Brave. It is based on Chromium, the engine that powers Chrome, Chromium and Edge.

The main aim appears to be to make privacy settings accessible to the average user who doesn’t know how to dig around Chrome or Firefox to get decent privacy settings. In that regard, Brave succeeds. By default, it offers better privacy including blocking most ads as well as tracking cookies.

The thing is companies like Google and Facebook have already moved on from relying on cookies to track you. There are other ways to keep track of yourself. For example, we can generate unique signatures based on your IP, user agent and lots of other data. So I can assure you that Google and Facebook will be able to track you even if you are using Brave. Don’t believe me? Use it as your default browser for a while and see if the personalised ads from Google stop. Besides most of the time, you are logged into your Gmail and Facebook so there is no hiding really.

Brave does a good job of blocking spammy ads and popups but in my opinion, it’s no better than Chrome with Adblock in this regard. Talking about spammy ads it is really ironic that Brave blocks ads but its default start page is full of them. There are adverts everywhere including ones that lead to third party sites who are presumably paying Brave for the privilege of advertising there.

Even around the internet, you will see Brave advertisements everywhere. They even use Google Adwords to promote their browser. Again that is rather ironic. This is a rather tacit admission that for all the talk against online advertisements, there is really no viable alternative to these yet. It’s kind of like the password thing. Everybody hates them but until we have a better solution there are here to stay.

Beware the affilliates

So another alternative way for people (publishers, YouTubers and social media influencers) is through affiliate marketing. This is when sellers give you a unique link that you can use to promote a given product on your site or social media account. When users follow that link and make a purchase or download they get paid a commission. This is because the seller uses your unique link to keep track of the downloads/purchases that they can attribute to you.

That’s why you have all those glowing reviews of Brave browser on YouTube and various social media pages. It’s not really because Brave is that awesome, it is a decent browser but hardly worth the praise it gets. It’s just because people are trying to make bank.

Now here is me being controversial but factual. Chrome is a much faster browser than Brave. If you don’t believe me run any benchmark you want and see for yourself. Chrome blows away Brave practically every day. This is despite the fact that Brave with its features is supposed to be faster than Chrome. The reality is that it isn’t. The engineers at Google have worked hard to make it a fast browser and they have succeeded in that regard. No browser is faster than Chrome. Not even Edge.

Brave is not a bad browser, it’s just not going to protect your privacy better than or be faster than your current Chrome browser. Anyone telling you anything different is lying.

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  1. Ali Jecha

    Chrome is okay i agree….. but when you say its the fastest 🤔
    Ever tried Puffin?

  2. Imi vanhu musadaro

    You can track a person based on IP address, but your IP address changes quite frequently especially if you are on a mobile device. Brave also uses different user agents when you are browsing the Internet. If you are being tracked, it would be quite unreliable to do this.

    If Google and Facebook are tracking you, because you are logged, that again is not a browser issue. This also relies on cookies.

    Please also publish the benchmarks you performed. It is odd that if the browsers are using the same engine, there are drastic performance differences. That’s save for the fact the ad-blocking Brave has to do extra work, determining if a request should be blocked. This may only be possible once the request is complete, resulting in rendering delays.

    1. Garikai Dzoma

      Sigh! I will probably pick this topic of the fastest browser on another day but I can assure you that Chrome is the fastest browser there is for most benchmarks. Do the tests yourself.
      I have run the following benchmarks:
      Jetstream 2-winner Chrome
      Speedometer-Winner Chrome
      HTML 5-winner Chrome
      A couple of others. Chrome only lost once to Edge of all browsers. This is on an Ubuntu Linux machine with Core i7 eighth Gen, Samsung EVO and 32 GB of RAM so maybe it’s different on Windows but my gut and Google search shows me the results are not different. Chrome is the best browser there is even though we hate Google. As for why the results are different given the same Chromium engine? It’s simple really. Try to build Chromium from source and you will understand. There are so many options you can turn on and off. Each browser maker has their own choices and ultimately that impacts performance. Then there is also the fact that they add their own code and customisations. That again leads to differences.

  3. Chimunhu

    “Talking about spammy ads it is really ironic that Brave blocks ads but its default start page is full of them.”

    Let’s be frank here, who spends 30 seconds staring at the start page of their browser? What’s so interesting there👀🤔?

  4. Ray

    How does the Brave browser compare to DuckDuckGo when it comes to privacy concerns?

  5. fungai

    For me Epic Browser with it’s VPN is the real deal. Give it try and tell me what you think

  6. Edson Neto

    É bastante curioso que o Brave em última instância resolva pouco ou nada dos problemas da web. Mesmo o mecanismo de busca que eles criaram parece preservar as mesmas questões do Google. Retiram os anúncios, mantendo só os anúncios, retiram as práticas de rastreamento, mantendo só o redirecionamento nos links (sim, o Brave já fez isso e foi um grande problema), retiram o algoritmo do Google, mantendo só o próprio algoritmo do Brave.

    As coisas são mais complicadas do que os desenvolvedores do Brave querem fazer parecer.

    Sobre as técnicas de fingerprinting, o autor do artigo está correto. O Brave adiciona uma camada de informações randômicas, mas inevitavelmente algumas microconfigurações do navegador são persistentes, ou seja, mesmo que ele randomize uma parte da impressão digital, uma parte é persistente e rastreável. Idealmente, uma proteção contra essa técnica de rastreamento deve sempre reduzir a quantidade de informações compartilhadas, não aumentá-la. É o que a Mozilla e o Tor tentam fazer, mas (de novo) não é uma tarefa simples.

    As duas grandes escolhas na atualidade ainda parecem ser entre o Chrome (majoritário, funcional, mas pouco privativo) e o Firefox (minoritário, com desempenho um pouco inferior, mas mais privativo).

  7. Wahler

    it is impossible not to agree. An anonymous conference? Pay, or watch an ad.

    “We are anonymous”, but we are just an intermediary browser? How is this possible?

    Thanks to them , but for anonymity – this is a utopia in the ecosystem. No options.

  8. ryan

    Heres a clown (Garikai Dzoma) rambling on about brave while promoting chrome, a browser owned by one of the biggest tracking and anti privacy lowlifes “Google”. Chrome sucks, period!.