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Facebook’s Quest to Block Ad-Blockers From Blocking Their Ads

Who ad-blocks the ad-blockers?
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Facebook really wants to show you ads, and it really wants to track your behavior all over the web so that it can serve you maybe-slightly-creepy targeted marketing. Of course, Facebook knows that ad blockers exist, especially the mega-popular AdBlock Plus, so two days ago, Facebook put together a new version of their front page designed to circumvent ad-blockers. Earlier today, AdBlock Plus put out an update that, as reported by The Verge, will go right on blocking all of Facebook’s ads once again.

No matter which side of the ad-blocking debate you’re on, it’s pretty entertaining that Facebook’s plans to block AdBlock Plus got thwarted in two days. That’s some quick work, eh?

Anyway, AdBlock Plus wrote on their development blog that they aim to continue the battle, no matter what circumvention techniques Facebook puts out, explaining: “this sort of back-and-forth battle between the open source ad-blocking community and circumventers has been going on since ad blocking was invented; so it’s very possible that Facebook will write some code that will render the filter useless — at any time. If that happens, the ad-blocking community will likely find another workaround, then Facebook might circumvent again, etc.”

Meanwhile, Facebook told The Verge in a statement, “Ad blockers are a blunt instrument, which is why we’ve instead focused on building tools like ad preferences to put control in people’s hands.”

Hm … okay, that’s sort of true. You can mess around with your ad preferences in Facebook quite a bit, but it’s difficult to get the service to stop tracking you entirely. Still, Facebook is a free service, and one could argue that these ads are a cost that must be endured in order for you to enjoy the site. Seems like a high cost, though, and not like it’s one that “put[s] control in people’s hands,” since there’s not really any other option on the table.

On the other hand, AdBlock Plus isn’t the hero of this story either, since they’ve been known to allow websites through their filters for the right price. Seems like all Facebook needs to do is pay up. But that sets a depressing precedent, no?

(via The Next Web)

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Maddy Myers
Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).