It’s easy to forget about the little programs and applications that sit idling in the backgrounds of our lives, dutifully performing the work that makes our day-to-day tech usage a little more pleasant.
This morning, while I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed on my iPhone, I tapped on a local news story and was met with this very intrusive ad…
No matter what I tapped, I couldn’t get back to the story. After finally getting back to the original post, I tried again to get to the actual story and got the same ad. I wrote a snarky comment about ad revenue at the expense of the user experience and gave up on trying to read it. This made me wish that I had the same ad blocker on my phone as I do for Mozilla Firefox (my preferred web browser) on my PC.
I installed the free Adblock Plus add-on several years ago and have thoroughly enjoyed mostly ad-free browsing since. My YouTube videos aren’t interrupted, pages load faster, and I have to worry much less about potential viruses as a result of the kind of malicious ads like the one pictured above.
Now, I will say that using an ad blocker is a little... morally ambiguous. One thing that anyone considering installing an ad blocker needs to keep in mind is that most websites are supported by ads and if you block them, the site generates no revenue from your visit. Webmasters aren’t exactly unaware that people use blockers though. Some sites have coding in them that can recognize if a visitor is employing an ad blocker and deny you entry until it is disabled. For instance, if you try to read an article on Forbes.com with an active blocker, the site will immediately put up a wall covering the page until you disable your ad blocker and refresh. Some argue that, to a degree, this is a privacy invasion but it’s perfectly legal and even understandable.
How do I decide what ads to allow through, you ask? Well, it’s pretty simple: if it’s a site that I have visited before and have reason to trust, I will turn Adblock Plus off. If a site greets me with a wall demanding I disable ABP to gain access, I give that site one chance and if it overcrowds my screen or starts autoplaying ad videos, I close that tab and never return to that site.
Again, I use Adblock Plus and can tell you firsthand that it works well and I trust it. I haven’t used any other blockers so I can’t vouch for them but I have heard there are a few other good options. Adblock Plus is also available for mobile but I don’t use it because I have an iPhone and worry much less about viruses (also it’s $10 and I’m cheap).
As an aside, I did a little research on the type of intrusive ad I screenshotted (that’s a word, I looked it up) above and found out that the site an ad like that comes from isn’t necessarily to blame, but that’s a rabbithole for another day.
As always, thank you for reading my ramblings and let me know if there is anything in the weird wild web that you would like me to investigate. I can be reached at email@example.com