Freemors Blog

Musings of an East Coast Techie
Posts tagged as ad-blocking

The Ad-Blocking Lie

2015-03-31 by Freemor

I have heard it stated over and over that people shouldn't uses ad-blocking software because if they do websites wont be able to make money, and the entire Internet will implode into a cash vacuum. OK, I added the imploding part, but it is always the implied outcome.. Use ad-blockers and the Internet will go away.

As someone that has been "on-line" since before there was a public Internet I can tell you this is patently untrue and the people that are telling you this are lying to you, or misinformed.

First I'd like to point out that a huge number of sites and services on the Internet do not rely on advertising for their income. Do you really think is going to disappear if everyone started using ad-blocking? I think not. does not and will not have ads. IRC servers have been around since the early days of the Internet and do not rely on ads. Same for most XMPP servers. Services that use a "Freemium" model like DropBox will still be around. Usenet providers switched years ago to being a paid service. Some torrent trackers may disappear but other wont, and besides there are other P2P file sharing options that do not rely on "tracker" sites. So the whole P2P thing won't go away.

E-mail might have a transition period but this is only because too many people have been conned into using big centralized E-mail servers who are in the business of selling all the information that they can harvest from peoples E-mail instead of just providing an E-mail service. Luckily there are many (currently less popular) E-mail providers that are solely in the business of providing E-mail and nothing else. If the ad-blocking apocalypse came to pass ISPs could easily go back to running their own E-mail servers like they did in the old days. Also I am sure many, many, non-advertising based mail servers would spring up to fill the void and make some cash while doing it.

The fact is that the things most at risk of disappearing if we hit peak ad-block would be exactly the services that are most hurtful to your privacy. To me this seems like a win.

The current layout of the Internet is far from what it's creators envisioned. They saw an Internet where every computer was a potential server, and many where. They envisioned an Internet that empowered people, not one that made people slaves to huge central servers especially not to huge central servers that were in the business of robbing people of their privacy.

The Internet is still based and run on the open architecture that the original creators put in place. Thus the Internet is what WE make it. I for one run my own mail, XMPP and other servers. You can to. It's not hard, it can even be fun. It is most definitely liberating.

So if Internet stores will still be around, and many,many, other Internet services will be around what are we really talking about losing in this supposed ad-blocking apocalypse? What would we loose? Twitter? (I doubt it, They have proven to be very agile and I'm sure they would adjust), Google, Facebook, and their lot? To that I say good riddance. To me and others these companies are a cancer on the Internet that we'll be glad to see the back of. Instant messaging? Nope. Many, Many, open, free and privacy respecting options that aren't based on advertising revenue. Plus it is trivial to set up an XMPP server these days and all XMPP servers can talk to other XMPP servers (if not messed up like FaceBook and Google did with theirs). So That'll still be around.

As far as I can see the only thing we would loose is services that are in the business of plundering your data to make money off of you. Would this really be a loss? I say no. I personally think everyone should run ad-blocking software, for two reasons. The current onslaught of advertising on the Internet makes many web pages close to unusable. And second, since the advertisers have all decided to ignore the "Do Not Track" header standard why the hell shouldn't I ignore them. Blocking ads protects my privacy and yours. If you decide to use ad-blocking, it will make websites load faster and browsers crash less often. It will save you bandwidth, and other computer resources. (which actually makes it a greener option). Why shouldn't you reclaim you privacy, your screen, your speed, your sanity? Because of some non-existant threat that the Internet will go away? I think not.

To help you get started here is a list of ad-blocking options. Find the ones that are right for you and start enjoying your privacy and browsing again.

UBlock - A faster more advanced blocker. Released under the GPLv3 License. It can use blocklist from Adblock Plus/Adblock Edge. AdBlock Plus - A GPL'd (freedom respecting, Copyleft ) plug-in for Firefox, Chrome and an Android app. It allows "acceptable" ads by default but you can easily turn that off.
Privoxy - A GPL'd, highly configurable http proxy that you can use to protect all devices in your home. A little more technical to set up then the plug-in but once up and running all you have to do is set all your devices to use it as their proxy and they are protected.
AdAway for Android - GPL'd, Requires a rooted device. I prefer it to Adblock Plus on my Android devices.
How To Block Ads via your HOSTS file - Technique works for Linux, Windows, Mac, Android, Etc. The page is geared towards windows users but the principal is the same on almost all platforms. There are links towards the bottom of the page for Linux,Mac, etc. Also there are many tools available that use this method. (AdAway above is one) So you can just DuckDuckGo around to find one you like.