If you’ve seen that friendly “Sharing is caring!” slogan once, you’ve seen it a million times. It’s one of the hallmarks of Shareaholic, a WordPress plugin that automatically adds social media buttons and related post recommendations to the posts and pages on your website. Shareaholic looks great and is easy to configure, and its ubiquity means that your readers know how to use it without any prompting on your part. I run it on many of my websites.
If you’ve been downloading updates for Shareaholic without checking the plugin’s configuration, though, you may be in for a bit of a surprise; recent updates for Shareaholic inject ads into your website by default, without your consent. Take a look at this screenshot showing Shareaholic’s default monetization settings after applying an update:
By default, Shareaholic monetizes your content in three ways. When displaying recommended content from your website, Shareaholic may inject “sponsored recommendations” from other websites. If someone clicks a sponsored recommendation, you may earn a few cents. Secondly, Shareaholic may track sales made via direct links to merchants such as Amazon. According to Shareaholic:
So, when this feature is enabled, the plugin will detect when you link directly to a merchant with whom Shareaholic has an affiliate relationship. If the click results in a sale, Shareaholic presumably splits the affiliate commission with you. While this certainly might be a good arrangement for those who lack the time or desire to join relevant affiliate programs and monetize their own websites, I do take issue with the fact that this is done by default, without your consent, simply because you chose to update the plugin.
The final new “feature” that I discovered upon updating Shareaholic is one that I find even more distasteful: a display ad that is shown when a user shares your content. According to Shareaholic:
The revenue generated by these display ads goes directly to Shareaholic — not to you. Again, this feature is enabled by default, even if you previously had other monetization options in the plugin disabled — and this is on top of the earnings that Shareaholic presumably generates from the data they collect on keywords, post titles and click-through rates — and the earnings generated from sponsored content.
If you’re here, you’re probably looking for instructions on how to disable ads in Shareaholic and stop the plugin from monetizing your content without permission. I recommend following these steps each time you update Shareaholic, as any new monetization “features” added to future versions of the plugin may be enabled by default.