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I received the following prompt when visiting Math Stack Exchange following a link from Google:

a screenshot of a chrome for Android location request

The exact URL in my address bar was:

https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/606375/prove-that-every-dual-graph-of-a-planar-graph-is-planar#:~:text=The%20dual%20graph%20of%20a%20planar%20graph%20is%20that%20connecting,they%20share%20a%20common%20edge.&text=Then%20you%20can%20connect%20two,lie%2C%20crossing%20the%20common%20edge.

I was logged into the site at the time, in an account in good standing with 221 rep. Clicking Block did not prevent me from using the site features. This does not occur on every page load, but even as a one-off prompt, it is concerning.

I'm using an official build of Google Chrome (83.0.4103.101 (Official Build) (32-bit)) on a OnePlus Three device running Android 9 with official google play services (not rooted or tampered with). To the best of my knowledge I do not have malware on the device.

Why am I receiving this prompt? Is it related to an advertisement, some sort of anti spam checks for my device, or something else? If I were to click Allow, would my location be stored and/or aggregated with other information about my profile?

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  • 3
    Is that yellow highlighting a result of following a link from a Google search?
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jun 16 '20 at 15:39
  • @Catija yes, the highlight is encoded in the URL syntax. I'll edit the exact URL as shown on my browser, into the post.
    – nanofarad
    Jun 16 '20 at 15:43
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    This does seem off. Thanks for reporting it. I'm going to refer it internally to get a response.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jun 16 '20 at 15:45
  • 4
    Sounds like some advertising. Did you notice any on the page?
    – Luuklag
    Jun 16 '20 at 15:47
  • 6
    @Luuklag you mean it may be similar to what was described in Why is Stack Overflow trying to start audio?
    – gnat
    Jun 16 '20 at 15:52
  • 2
    Could be, just a guess @gnat
    – Luuklag
    Jun 16 '20 at 15:54
  • @Luuklag I did not notice any ads, but I was only on the page briefly to read the answer (I was looking for a yes/no so scrolling around the rest of the page wasn't useful to me at the time and I didn't think to look when I got the popup)
    – nanofarad
    Jun 16 '20 at 16:25
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    Here is a status-deferred feature-request to do just that: meta.stackexchange.com/q/70077/282094 and here is a suggestion that it's caused by a rouge Toolbar: meta.stackexchange.com/a/234079/282094 - you have the "reduced ADs privilege" on that site, so reproducing the problem might be difficult; though reloading gives me an AD every half dozen times.
    – Rob
    Jun 16 '20 at 21:20
  • @Rob I'm under the impression that Stack Exchange. Inc doesn't sell job ad space on non-tech stacks (e.g. sciences, math), and I don't have a browser toolbar or other software which could reasonably inject location-seeking code.
    – nanofarad
    Jun 16 '20 at 22:41
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    Update from our side: First of all, thanks for sharing this! We're looking into this issue but can't reproduce it. We indeed currently don't run job ads on non-tech SE sites, however, we do run some (very little) regular ads on those sites. We've reached out to some clients that run there to see whether it could come from them.
    – JD-Stack Staff
    Jun 17 '20 at 13:41
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    @JD-Stack thank you for the update. I'm also not able to replicate this with a few page loads but I'll be sure to follow up if I see it again and have any additional details related to any ads I see.
    – nanofarad
    Jun 17 '20 at 14:51
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    I initially mentioned this on a cross-site dupe: the privacy policy currently includes "hen you use the Stack Overflow Network, and certain of our Products and Services, we collect location information about you including your IP address, your location, browser information, and how you came to the Stack Overflow Network" - this is possibly intentionally put in place by SE, and possibly connected to ads for SO jobs. This is not evidence that SE intentionally did this though, Jul 14 '20 at 19:24
  • 1
    but it's conveniently related to this. Jul 14 '20 at 19:25

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