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Can a Chrome extension’s content script guarantee that a DOM event was user-initiated?

I have an extension injecting HTML elements into pages and watching for click events on those elements. I want to be sure that any given click event came from a user action, rather than JS on the page creating and dispatching a click event. Is there a way of doing so?

Answer

You’re looking for event.isTrusted, which has not yet been implemented.

But it is still possible to detect whether a click event was user-initiated. The chrome.permissions.request API requires a user gesture, or else it will report a failure. The chrome.permissions API cannot be used in content scripts (since Chrome 33). Fortunately, the user gesture state is preserved when you use the messaging API to exchange a message from a content script and the background page (Since Chrome 36). So, you can use the following logic to detect whether the click event was generated by a user and act accordingly:

background.js

chrome.runtime.onMessage.addListener(function(message, sender, sendResponse) {
    if (message === 'is-user-gesture') {
        chrome.permissions.request({}, function() {
            // If an error occurred, then the message was not
            // initiated by a user gesture.
            var is_user = !chrome.runtime.lastError;
            sendResponse(is_user);
        });
        return true; // Async
    }
});

contentscript.js

function isUserEvent(callback) {
    chrome.runtime.sendMessage('is-user-gesture', function(is_user) {
        // Note: is_user could be undefined if the extension was reloaded
        // since the content script started.
        // We are conservative and assume that the action was not triggered
        // by a user gesture. Use "use is_user !== false" if you want to
        // assume that the action was triggered by the user if the extension
        // has reloaded.
        is_user = is_user === true;
        callback(is_user);
    });
}
document.body.onclick = function() {
     isUserEvent(function(is_user) {
         alert(is_user ? 'Triggered by user' : 'Spoofed event');
     });
};

To test this method, run the following steps in the page / content script:

// Test fake event (will display "Spoofed event")
document.body.dispatchEvent(new CustomEvent('click'));
// TODO: Click on the body with your mouse (will display "Triggered by user")
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