Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 19th Sep 2015 14:37 UTC
Internet & Networking

Let's talk ad-blocking.

With the arrival of iOS 9, ad-blocking is coming to mobile in a big way, and it's causing a lot of talk all over the web. It is highlighting the internal struggle some feel about the practice, but also the hypocrisy of some of its staunchest proponents. So far, it seems like the real 'bloodbath' isn't taking place where people thought it would be - namely, publishers - but among personalities.

Permalink for comment 618070
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Comment by nitrile
by nitrile on Mon 21st Sep 2015 01:55 UTC
Member since:

I'm sure some of us have a history of illicit ad blocking we'd be uncomfortable to admit. Ever since that first time, just turning off 'automatically run animated gifs' it's the drug we just can't quit. That was the gateway. Then it was pop up blockers, and banners. When google themselves supplied text ads, there was a quaint but short period where it seemed like the habit was about to be kicked. There'd be no reason to take unsafe or atrocious ads anymore.

How wrong we all were.

The ad pushers declared war, on themselves but also, incidentally on us. With a neverending stream of designer ads, delivered spiked with javascript and then, full-blown flash. Depleting batteries, crashing browsers. There was always a bigger hit. Making otherwise functional devices unusuable. Delivering more ad payload than content by orders of magnitude because it's been cut too many times, often bringing malware that they charge us the bandwidth for

Then, the trackers. Twenty a site. It was out of control. EFF tried to to help it go legit, to agree a DNT programme. But, as we all know - they thought they had all the power and were Just. Too. Greedy.

Alright. Storytime aside.

It may have been incidental, but it seems users are not entirely a neutral and passive party after all, and in the ad-pushers' efforts to outdo (by their metric) each other, they even managed to cross notice of the technically non-illiterate's line - even someone who knows nothing about computers understands when they look at a website with mountains of moving garbage and their tablet gets *hot* it's almost certainly related. And the data use.

They poisoned their own well, and I don't feel bad for them in the slightest. I hope all their businesses die. They tried to annex control of all our systems at our expense, track us across the web, and claim they had a right to.

I find apple's stance somewhat morally dubious. Quite asides from anything else, google was heir apparent to the saviour itself at one point. But at least apple have an 'experience' to protect. Their own. But finally as the ad sites panic - it's pulled back the veil with the very protestations of innocence by the offenders themselves. By enough? probably not.

For myself I'm genuinely conflicted. If it were like magazine ads - these used to work, remember - I'd not block. *didn't* block. Right now if I turned on javascript it would probably, via firefox set my 2014 quad core on fire, so I'm definitely not going to do that. It's not all ads. It's not all trackers, and not one tracker a page but sometimes more than 20. Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot.

It's the page reloading when you're reading it, the flash apps, the crap /everywhere/, more and more in your face. A line of copy pasted, insecure, buggy and inefficent JS at a time, they've been subsuming the internet.

And adblock makes it all go away. Oh that's such a guilty pleasure. Except it isn't, really for all the above reasons. I've whitelisted certain sites, but I don't actually want flash (or javascript; noscript nukes it all) from them either. I'd rather whitelist certain types but, it's just so.. easy. I used to, on occasion click ads that were relevant - from sites I visited and not even (entirely) spuriously, but that relied on my seeing them. Well I don't now; as things escalated beyond irritation and to actual security threats. And Adblock's motivations in the 'non-intrusive advertising' case are as dubious as Apple's. More seriously, that feature doesn't do what I want either. And definitely not the site admins'.

But I won't turn it off. Can there be a reset at this point? Driving smaller site operators into an apple or google barn to be farmed doesn't help us in the long term. I don't suppose asking for VC money to build an ad business that's ethical would get a first read. Maybe that's how someone like EFF should tackle this.

And yet, it doesn't, actually have to be a tripartite abusive relationship. It just is.

Edited 2015-09-21 02:06 UTC

Reply Score: 5