Active Content

What Does Active Content Mean?

Active content is a type of interactive or dynamic website content that includes programs like Internet polls, JavaScript applications, stock tickers, animated images, ActiveX applications, action items, streaming video and audio, weather maps, embedded objects, and much more. Active content contains programs that trigger automatic actions on a Web page without the user’s knowledge or consent.


Web developers use active content to visually enhance the Web page or provide additional functionality beyond basic HTML. All Web users are regularly exposed to active content.

Active content is also known as mobile code.

Techopedia Explains Active Content

Active content may require browser plug-ins for execution. For example, the RealPlayer plug-in allows Web browser users to watch videos online. Other plug-ins allow users to open PDFs or view Flash files in a Web browser.

Active content can extend website functionality and visual appeal. However, if used in excess, active content may lead to website degradation, resulting in user distraction from a website’s main goal.

Active content is mainly used by websites to build animations as well as other interactive features. Sadly, it may also be exploited to deliver and execute malicious code on users’ computers. Active content may automatically be downloaded into users’ computers without their knowledge or consent. Also, it can be sent via instant messages and email.

Some malicious and harmful programs may take full advantage of the vulnerabilities present in active contents. Some of these threats include:

  • Phishing
  • Malware
  • Spyware
  • Hacking
  • Adware

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.