Ad Blocking ethics

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by Kirk Reynolds, Mar 22, 2013.

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  1. Kirk Reynolds

    Kirk Reynolds Registered Member

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    I was doing a somewhat related search and came across these two articles and thought that they would make for an interesting discussion here.

    "Media mafiosos: Is Adblock Plus shaking down websites for cash to let ads through?"
    http://www.digitaltrends.com/web/adblock-plus-accused-of-shaking-down-websites/

    "Ad Blocking: Theft Or Fair Use?"
    http://www.adexchanger.com/data-driven-thinking/ad-blocking-theft-or-fair-use/



    I didn't thoroughly read the first articled, just skimmed it, but from what I caught, their accusations are based on anonymous sources. The second article does have a point, but it's a bit one-sided (the site is called "ad exchanger" :D). The intrusiveness of some of these ads oftentimes crosses the line, I think. Plus there can be security considerations.

    What do you think?
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2013
  2. GrailVanGogh

    GrailVanGogh Registered Member

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    All I know is every time I update the ABP filters I make sure to disable any whitelisted filters the ABP dev pushes through.

    Well I appreciate the developer offering such a useful extension I decide which site is allowed to show ads or not.
     
  3. allizomeniz

    allizomeniz Registered Member

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    I don't know about the first article, but as far as the second, I consider advertising in all forms as an all-out assault directed at me when I encounter it. The truth is, advertisers have no problem with doing whatever it takes to separate me from my cash, and the more of it the better. So if I use an ad blocker, tough luck. They'll make it up and then some by shaking down other gullible saps who fall for their tricks. I'm so sick of listening to advertisers whine about ad blockers. So they only make 9 million this year instead of 10, who cares. :D
     
  4. Mman79

    Mman79 Registered Member

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    The first link/accusation wouldn't at all surprise me. It never made any sense anyway that advertisers were getting on that list because they suddenly got kind-hearted.

    The second link, I'm sorry, but so long as "movie-ads", large, scrolling images, malware-laden ads and other annoyances continue to be the go-to for advertisers and malware writers, they'll just have to deal with me blocking them. Maybe if some sites fall, they'll get the point.
     
  5. siljaline

    siljaline Former Poster

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  6. Wild Hunter

    Wild Hunter Former Poster

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    I keep the acceptable ads feature of ABP+ enabled here and I don't notice any difference at all.

    Anyways, I think of ABP+ as something to get rid (automatically, preferably, with the help of the right filters) of really annoying ads (with animations, sounds, etc), not as something to get rid of all kinds of internet advertising.
     
  7. noone_particular

    noone_particular Registered Member

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    These ad companies have a lot of gall calling ad blocking unethical. Unethical is tracking and profiling users, then profiting from selling that data which isn't theirs to begin with. Unethical is sabotaging ideas like "do not track", making it meaningless. Unethical is lying through their teeth claiming that blocking them will destroy a free internet. They aren't going to stop advertiizing on the internet because of ad blocking. There's nowhere else for them to go. The worst that happens is they don't make as much money, which is fine since they serve almost no useful purpose to begin with.

    I really don't care if they think it's unethical. I don't care if they even manage to make it illegal. When did it become the ad companies place to dictate what we should consider acceptable? Blocking ads is stealing but extracting users data, history, etc is not? I'll consider not "stealing" website content when they stop stealing my data and records of my activities. Until they get off their double standard, they can shove their definition of ethical, and their stinking ads.
     
  8. TheWindBringeth

    TheWindBringeth Registered Member

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    The first article appears to include, and reference, comments from "co-founder Till Faida":
    which seem consistent with the anonymous claim that Adblock Plus folks expect payment/contribution for allowing ads through. In addition to, I assume, meeting their "Acceptable ads" criteria. I personally don't think it is appropriate to demand monetary or other forms of contribution.

    Regarding the second article, I think either 1) there are no boundaries for either side, or 2) there are boundaries for BOTH sides. IOW, I think it unreasonable to ask if the ad blocking is ethical without asking if the advertising is ethical. I think you have to consider things like whether the ads are lower risk (text, images) vs higher risk (javascript, java, flash, silverlight), whether they are served by the site you are visiting vs served by third parties, whether the ads are personalized or not personalized, etc.

    Unfortunately, the Adblock Plus "acceptible ads" criteria doesn't forbid redirect based tracking (the way I read it) and/or third party served ads and/or personalized ads.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2013
  9. chrisretusn

    chrisretusn Registered Member

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    The first article is nothing but unsubstantiated accusations.

    The second article. Well with a name like AdExchanger, I was not all that surprised at the content.

    I think it's a huge stretch to call blocking ads equivalent to stealing. I can walk through the market or a huge department store, lots of advertising going on, yet I can walk out with nothing purchased. Why is it I am expected to generate revenue for browsing web content? Even if I allowed ads, I would never (knowingly) click on one anyway. Which brings up this question. If I allow ads but refuse to click, am I still stealing?

    Simply ad blocking, nothing more.

    Advertisers want to force ads down the throats of as may people they can reach. They don't seem to care about how they go about doing this. It's darn near impossible to get away from advertising.

    I rather not be annoyed by junk I am not interested in, so I choose block all ads.
     
  10. Kirk Reynolds

    Kirk Reynolds Registered Member

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    Good points all around.

    With that first article I can't say that I condone it if it's true, but I suppose that I don't have much sympathy for the accusers either. Will just to have to watch and see.

    The 2nd article kind of reminds me of telemarketers complaining about loss of revenue because of a national do not call registry. People put their phone numbers on the list because they're sick of the harassment of phone calls. If telemarketers hadn't rang our phones off the walls to begin with, then there may not have been such a big push to try to stop it.

    If advertising wasn't so ubiquitous and invasive online to begin with, then perhaps the % of users using adblockers would be lower and advertisers wouldn't have as much to complain about. It's a trade off. Yeah, the economy may not be quite as stimulated due to loss of ad revenue, but that's a trade off that I think most people are willing to make given the current environment.

    As already touched on, there's more involved with online advertising that just an "irritating ad" popping up, too.
     
  11. guest

    guest Guest

    100 % ACK! :thumb: Thank you very much for writing exactly the same that I would have written (only in poorer english of course) if I weren't so lazy! :D
     
  12. Rmus

    Rmus Exploit Analyst

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    I've not used an ad blocking program.

    I suppose since I know someone whose web site benefits from advertisements, I've not minded them, because I know that is how his and other sites get their support.

    Even on the news sites that I frequent, I even look at the ads sometimes!

    Just as reading a newspaper or magazine -- the ads are there, and I can choose whether or not to look at them!


    ----
    rich
     
  13. Kerodo

    Kerodo Registered Member

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    I never used any adblocker until just a few months ago because most of the time my brain just tunes them out and I don't really even see most ads. However, on a few sites that I started going to recently, things got so annoying that I started using ABP just for survival.
     
  14. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    I use them. Some of the ads are so in your face. Even though it can be had free, I pay for some sites and still they try and foist them down your throat.

    Besides there are somethings now that won't run if you block ads. Sites can block blockers. If they choose not to, I have no qualms about blocking them.

    Pete
     
  15. wat0114

    wat0114 Registered Member

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    As has been alluded to already, some ads nowadays are in your face, flashing all over like a Christmas tree, which is one reason why I use ad blocking. The other is that hackers often use them to plant their malware in.
     
  16. Mman79

    Mman79 Registered Member

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    I totally understand the point that many websites rely on it for revenue. For me it boils down to not enjoying the "in your face" aspect of many of them, the excessive tracking and, in some cases, the real danger of malware being sent through them.

    Magazine and newspaper ads are an entirely different subject. Those don't flash, scroll down pages with you, infect you, and so on. Going back to one of the original articles, they really are out somewhere in space to be claiming that ad blocking is like pirating music and stealing anything.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2013
  17. ellison64

    ellison64 Registered Member

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  18. TheWindBringeth

    TheWindBringeth Registered Member

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    The "not being subjected to tracking, profiling, etc" aspect of those types of ads is nice. However, even those can be obnoxious. Ads stickied to pages that you must to some degree look at as you remove them to access content. Perfume inserts which expose you to chemicals no matter what you do. Apparently, an increasing percentage of people are in some way sensitive to such chemicals. Flippers, as I once heard them called, which due to thickness and/or shape cause the magazine to open to the ad. Sometimes even when you try to put it down with a specific page open. I once heard someone say that the loose inserts aren't just about ease of insertion of local specific and/or late advertising... that some advertisers actually want to use them because they do fall on the floor which requires you to notice them and pick them up. If it were cost effective to create face hugger ads that jump out and attach themselves to the reader's face and remain stuck in front of their eyes for awhile, we'd probably see those tried.
     
  19. LoneWolf

    LoneWolf Registered Member

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    Couldn't have said it better myself. :thumb:
    Also I know malware has/does hide in infected ads, but I can't see any of that myself. :D
     
  20. niki

    niki Registered Member

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    I know for a fact that someone clicked on a pic to download a software got burned and that was on a very well known and safe website. No, it wasn't me. But 10 years ago me being a complete noob I clicked on an x (advertisement) and my homepage was changed. Ads are definitely not my cuppa tea. Especially the flashy ones. :thumbd:

    I completely agree with noone_particular's post. +1 and other posters as well. :thumb:
     
  21. Rmus

    Rmus Exploit Analyst

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    I'm not sure what you refer to here...

    Doesn't "tracking" require a persistent cookie?

    I've searched in vain to find such stuff. I used to follow some of the malware blogs that tracked these things, but never could encounter one to see how the exploit triggered. The site was always sanitized by the time I got to it.

    Ah. yes, I've forgotten about "Flash" ads that animate, for that is where I draw the line. Not having plug-ins enabled, I don't see them, so strictly speaking, I do "block" some ads!

    As to whether or not it's ethical to block ads -- from one dictionary:

    To my knowledge, there is nothing written (ie, rule or standard) governing how people control what appears on their computer screen.

    I may be wrong, but if not, then the article sets up a phantom problem.

    Now, how a someone feels personally about the issue (to block or not to block) is different, because we all set up our own standards in many areas of life.


    ----
    rich
     
  22. noone_particular

    noone_particular Registered Member

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    If it was just ads that were semi-relevant to the content of the site, I'd consider not blocking them. When they start making it hard to view the page or start popping up just because your cursor touched a keyword, that's going too far. The internet would do just fine with less intrusive ads that didn't track users or try to extract usage tracks from their equipment. Sites that require revenue from tracking and intrusive ads in order to survive often don't have any content of their own that's of any value. The internet would be better off without a lot of those sites.

    In some ways, the controversy surrounding AdBlock Plus reminds me too much of what happened years ago with the adware removers. It seems to be following a very similar course, one that starts with removing things users don't want. It gradually evolves into a company/individual taking it upon themselves to decide what should and shouldn't be acceptable to the users. This brings back memories of adware being removed from detection lists because someone decides it's acceptable, even when users didn't want it. IMO, if AdBlock Plus continues down this path, they will become worthless.
     
  23. Wroll

    Wroll Registered Member

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    There's no ethics problem. People should be able whatever they want in their PCs. Site admins can always disable access to people who have adblock installed. They can also put a paywall.
     
  24. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Something else that dawned me. Using an ad blocker is really the same as what I sometimes do with my tv's cable box. When there is an ad break, I put the thing on pause and wait 4 minutes. Then I fast forward thru the ads. I might watch them if they weren't so absolutely stupid.

    Pete
     
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