How will eBay enforce the new Active Content rules?

By Dan Wilson May 10, 2017 - 5:15 pm

This post is by Jonathan Pollard CEO & Co-founder of Codisto – a provider of Amazon & eBay integration and listings tools. ‘Marketplace Connect’ is a lightweight extension offering full integration for Magento, WooCommerce & Shopify. ‘Xpress Lister’ is a browser based tool offering bulk edit of existing listings and bulk creation of new listings from spreadsheets.

(This article follows on from: Removing Active Content from existing eBay listings.)

Has eBay done enough to help sellers comply with the new Active Content rules?

Many sellers argue a resounding ‘no’ citing reasons that include:

– Emails being sent out telling sellers that listings contain Active Content but not specifying which listings.
– The promoted 3rd party tool from i-ways can tell if a listing is Active Content compliant but it only accepts a single listing ID making it time consuming and it doesn’t provide information as to what on the listing is non-compliant or how to fix it.

Given the difficulty in developing a software solution to automatically ‘unscramble the egg’ (i.e. separating the written product description from template HTML in the combined ebay description element) in order to remove/replace Active Content, in some ways it’s not surprising that eBay have decided to focus on what not to do going forward instead of a providing tools or a clear ‘how to fix’ guide. But given the extent of the problem, many sellers feel it is disappointing there isn’t more direct help from eBay.

How will eBay enforce the Active Content ban?

To understand how eBay will enforce the ban, it’s useful to understand some basics of HTML. This HTML expression contains no Active Content and wouldn’t need changing:

<div>I’m selling great stuff</div>

What is div? It just means a ‘rectangle’ on a page that by default spans the full width and uses up only as much height as its content.

Now, if we added a link to a pdf technical specification document, it would become:

<div>I’m selling great stuff <a href=””>here is the tech spec</a></div>

This is still Active Content compliant.

Now, let’s make the link popup in a new window that we control:

<div>I’m selling great stuff <a href=”” target=”mytechspecwindow”>here is the tech spec</a></div>

This is now not active content compliant.  Why?  Because one of the definitions of active content is “no popups”.   If you submit this HTML in your listing after the ban what happens?  The listing still goes up on eBay, but when the user clicks on ‘here is the tech spec’, nothing happens.  This listing is in effect, broken.

Enforcing the ban

eBay is likely using a feature from HTML5 which is relatively new.  This allows the limiting functionality within iframesBy serving the ‘ebay description’ via iframe, eBay will be able to apply HTML5 iframe sandbox restrictions – this is what they are calling ‘Active Content’.

This link explains how to place a set of security and usability restrictions on the iframe.

Possible values are:

allow-top-navigation: Allows a sandboxed iframe to navigate its top-level browsing context

allow-scripts: Re-enables JavaScript in a sandboxed iframe.

allow-same-origin:    Allows the content of a sandboxed iframe to be treated as having the same origin as the primary document.

allow-popups:   Re-enables popups in a sandboxed iframe.

allow-pointer-lock:     Re-enables the Pointer Lock API (mouse movement capture) in sandboxed a iframe.

allow-forms:    Re-enables form submission in a sandboxed iframe.

To enforce the Active Content ban, eBay will be killing all of this functionality – no top navigation, no scripts, no popups, no forms, no pointer lock.

Are there any tools to help make existing listings Active Content compliant?

You can use Xpress Lister to remove Active Content for free by following our guide here.

  • Adam
    4 years ago

    I’m getting “Active Content” emails – inc. item numbers. This despite the fact that I don’t have any active content. I’ve stripped the listings bare. I’ve checked the HTML etc. Usual clunky ebay, I suppose.

  • Michael Souris
    4 years ago

    eBay have specifically said that links should include target=’_blank’ in the html

  • 4 years ago

    We’re under the impression that eBay will be adding the “allow-popups” and “allow-popups-to-escape-sandbox” options to the iframe sandbox attribute – as detailed at the bottom of the isdntek active content check page –

    Though of course this may be wrong, or change before the cut off.

    • 4 years ago

      Further to this, if you inspect the html code used for the Active Content Removal Preview on your listings (when logged in on eBay) – these are the options used by eBay themselves.

  • Rinsad Ahmed
    4 years ago

    As I know these guys are providing a great service.

    They write custom programming based on a sellers ebay store to copy old descriptions into a new template and update it on ebay. They are very cheap too. I believe that is the only solution we can find for the existing listings which are not bound to any eBay integration tools like Codisto, Neto or Swiftproduction

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