back to article Adblock overlord to Zuckerberg: Lay down your weapons and surrender

Ben Williams, Eyeo's comms chief, has warned Facebook that it's joined a battle it can't win. Eyeo is the controversial outfit that commercialises AdBlock software. Last year John Whittingdale compared Eyeo's model – which allows advertisers through for a fee – to a "modern day protection racket". Earlier this year Facebook …

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Erm, no Zuckerberg the consumer holds the cards by not using your bottom hole sniffing intrusionware; feck-off Facebook.

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Anonymous Coward

Zuck can get the cards back my making Facebook the ONLY source of key social stuff, forcing a "Walking on the Sun" decision.

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Zuck can get the cards back my making Facebook the ONLY source of key social stuff, forcing a "Walking on the Sun" decision.

No. Actually the users can start talking face-to-face or use a telephone and even email to communicate. But, given the nature of the those using FB, they wouldn't get as much perceived attention from "friends" who are actually total strangers.

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<p>Actually the users can start talking face-to-face or use a telephone and even email to communicate</p>

As someone who grew up before the Web and social media became a thing, I can see where you're coming from, but...

As someone who has a product/service, I get a lot of value out of Facebook (and other social media) as a means of reaching out and engaging with my user community. For personal interaction, I agree that there should be more face-to-face pub-based/café-based communication but for the sort of one-to-many communication that a brand-promoter needs, FB, etc. is very very valuable.

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...but for the sort of one-to-many communication that a brand-promoter needs, FB, etc. is very very valuable.

This is just sad. I remember quite clearly the early days of FB and the strict rules of no businesses allowed.

If FB really does have this kind of influence, then people really fucking hopelessly stupid.

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Oh, it absolutely does, make no mistake. It may all be in the user's mindset, but collectively that's comparably immutable thing to Windows's (once) absolute dominance as OS simply because it's what everyone else uses. The result is that countless businesses don't have websites anymore, don't have mailing lists anymore, or indeed any way to keep in touch or even get in contact (!) - they just insist you look them up on Facebook. Wanna order a Pizza or even just see the menu? Tough luck, visit this Facebook-based take-out food on-line ordering platform we are a member of! Unfortunately, these guys really do make the best pizza in town, I can't just go elsewhere - fortunately, they do still pick up the phone. For how much longer, I'm not sure...

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" for the sort of one-to-many communication that a brand-promoter needs, FB, etc. is very very valuable."

Sort of like running your own website?

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Anonymous Coward

"We’ll strike back," he promised.

It's too early and I didn't had my bucket of coffee yet, and I didn't get the general idea. What can the ad-blockers do that can't be easily undone by Facebook?

Ad-blockers block some ads but let others pass. Facebook blocks ad-blockers. Blokes who want to want to read the bollocks that are in Facebook are going to play by Facebook rules, not by Ad-blockers rules. Some may even give up on Facebook -- this may be the only win-win solution?

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Re: "We’ll strike back," he promised.

What can the ad-blockers Facebook do that can't be easily undone by Facebook the ad-blockers?

Is more to the point. Unless FB runs adverts from their own servers just like user posts, its still easily separable. And if they do that they can't rely upon 3rd party advertisement houses for revenue.

That is, of course, quite possible. But then the second step is for ad-blockers to disable any animated image/video by default. So FB still punts ads, but they are now neutered in terms of bandwidth and annoyance so really the user has won by not being force-fed any more shit that their "friends" on FB normally punt at them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "We’ll strike back," he promised.

I fear this may wander into the sort of crap that Google has foisted upon Youtube and what the BBC does with video clips watched from abroad: you won't be able to watch anything without having to sit through an ad first.

The only problem that Facebook has not to intersperse a feed with marketing messages is legislation, and I think we all know how scrupulously Facebook complies with laws that get in the way of profit..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "We’ll strike back," he promised.

> Some may even give up on Facebook -- this may be the only win-win solution?

We did. No more ads. No more quizzes, lame memes, local shitposters, event invitation spam, narcissists, wannabe entrepreneurs begging for likes/retweets/kickstarter/patreon, TMI, whiners, alarmist news, "causes". And no more random crazies stalking us IRL.

We miss out on some parties and events but people find other ways to tell us about the good ones, so that's another win-win.

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Lazy ad sales teams (and web editors) are the problem, not ad-blockers

If online publishers took the same approach as print publishers and sold ad space directly to clients, then the ads would be more relevant to the publication, and less irritating.

Crucially, if web editors made more effort, and 'hand crafted' client's ads into web pages, then the ad blockers couldn't block them anyway.

More effort for publishers, but a better experience for users.

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Re: Lazy ad sales teams (and web editors) are the problem, not ad-blockers

You are not counting the ads that pop up and cover the entire page, or blot out the content, or hang the web-browser. There are many sites I just won't go to because there are ads covering the top and both sides of the window. Then, 15 seconds after you start reading an article, a full-page ad pops up. Then another ad starts some audio. One of the ads then crashes, and you have to close the window and start over. There are some sites that I habitually click the 'Print this Page' button because it is the ply way to get a readable copy of the content. When the content is less than 20% of the page, it isn't worth it anymore.

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Eyeo says it [..] wants "user empowerment"

We had user empowerment. We used to be able to install AdBlock and we would have no ads.

Now I install Adblock and I still get ads - the one you're paid to let through. That is a reduction in my empowerment.

So I uninstalled Adblock and I now use Ublock Origin which bloacks ads and hasn't sold out. How's that for empowerment ?

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Re: Eyeo says it [..] wants "user empowerment"

To be fair theres an option in adblock to also block the "friendly" ads so you dont see any ads at all.

I use Origin though just because the applet is lighter.

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Meh

Re: Eyeo says it [..] wants "user empowerment"

@ Pascal Monett - "Now I install Adblock and I still get ads"

I've got adblock and have used it for years just fine in conjunction with NoScript. Don't see any ads when I'm surfing, or it is actually letting unscripted, imageless ads through and as I'm not noticing them I'm fine with that.

What were you doing to get it to give you ads?

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Pint

Re: Eyeo says it [..] wants "user empowerment"

I now use Ublock Origin

Well said, and I too now use Ublock Origin for 5 or 6 weeks or so..

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Re: Eyeo says it [..] wants "user empowerment"

I have also switched from Adblock Plus to uBlock Origin in Firefox just recently.

As well as being lighter on your computer's resources I've also noticed that 'certain sites' which won't let you in with Adblock Plus don't seem to detect uBlock Origin and allow you to enter - still minus the ads, of course.

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Re: Eyeo says it [..] wants "user empowerment"

I find Privacy Badger, while not intended as an ad-blocker, does seem to block an awful lot of the bad stuff as a side effect.

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Re: Eyeo says it [..] wants "user empowerment"

"I've got adblock and have used it for years just fine in conjunction with NoScript. Don't see any ads when I'm surfing"

Snap. And what's more UO seems to interfere with the Beeb weather site. No doubt it can be tuned no to but AB+ and NS do what I want with no problems.

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FAIL

Ads are a waste of time and money anyway...

Mine and theirs...

Why would I buy something from someone that annoys me, slows down my computer, eats away at my bandwith AND possibly infects my computer with virusses and spyware ?

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Happy

Re: Ads are a waste of time and money anyway...

Why would I buy something from someone that annoys me, slows down my computer, eats away at my bandwith AND possibly infects my computer with virusses and spyware...

I think we can assume malle-herbert is not a natural Microsoft customer.

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Alert

I occasionally feel guilty about using an adblocker, but when ad networks such as Google are serving malware through adverts, using an adblocker is just another form of anti-virus.

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Exactly. It's legitimate self defense.

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Who cares.

Basically we all know that the net makes money mainly due to advertising. As it stands, this is just two sides of the same coin.

Subscriptions or it is a free for all. There is no moral right to any path.

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That huge ad at the top of the Reg is pretty ugly.

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Alert

yeah, about that

El Reg, pls do allow me to pay subscription fee (or donation) since otherwise you will not be able to monetize me reading my favourite site. I do occasionally take down my defences, for a short while, to check your ads and yeah, they are still slowing down my reading of this site. Perhaps due to tracking scripts or maybe slow ad content, I do not know. And honestly I do not care, it should be your problem, not mine (because if I do not like your ads, I simply enable blocking back again)

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Re: yeah, about that

I would love to be able to pay a small subscription to read the site. Of the order of say £10-15 per year to disable all the adverts. I read the site primarily on my work PC and they won't let us install Adblockers (well install anything), so I get all the crappy flash stuff. Horrible horrible things.

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Anonymous Coward

The Reg banner

>> That huge ad at the top of the Reg is pretty ugly.

And frequently occupies the majority of real estate at the top of each Reg page, making reading El Reg a dismal experience - unless you use an Ad blocker!

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Re: yeah, about that

"I would love to be able to pay a small subscription to read the site. Of the order of say £10-15 per year to disable all the adverts."

What if I were to tell you the red dot is not real they possibly make more than a smidge more than that off a person (who doesn't block ads)...?

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Re: yeah, about that

"What if I were to tell you .. they possibly make more than a smidge more than that off a person (who doesn't block ads)...?"

A) I'd want to see evidence

B) Any advertiser selling something I might possibly buy stands a better chance of selling to me if I've blocked their ad. and hence helped them to not piss me off.

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I wouldn't mind the ads if they weren't so bloated. Some websites slow to a crawl if you have all the ads on. Its a shame for the guys who do make the effort to create efficient light websites. Publications I read often I white list the ads to support them.

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Facepalm

Crap web page design

One site I used to frequent changed hands and the new owners went gung-ho into a redesign.

The result was that a site that had been fast to load without ad-blocking went to one that would not load at all unless you allowed SIXTY THREE other domains through your ad blocker. some of the domains needed other domains that needed other domains etc etc. What a load of stinking cat crap.

Many were tracking cookies. Some of these were dated to expire in 3022.(WTF?)

In the end I and a good many others just gave up on the site.

It went phut less than a year later. The owners cited lack of Ad revenue. Well Doh!

There is a reason that most of us use Adblockers and the likes of the Zuck has not grocked it yet. Perhaps they never will.

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Anonymous Coward

Wonder what happens next when (not if) Facebook decides to disguise the ads more as legitimate posts, to the point attempting to block them results in collateral damage and legit posts get blocked, too? As for the law, FB could just move the ad flingers out of the law's reach.

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Anonymous Coward

Just give FB the finger

and stop using it. Other (anti-)social media sites have died. FB is not too big to fail

I've never felt the need to use FB or even visit their site so I've been spared the gospel of St Zuck. Long may that remain.

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Since 90% of the supposedly friend posts I see on facecrap are junk, blocking them doesn't seem like much of a loss.

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Escalation

At what point are ad blockers going to start using malware methods to hide themselves from being identified by websites?

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Anonymous Coward

Funny you should say that...

"Then again, ad-blocking doesn't really figure as a significant factor on mobile yet – and that's where the ads are most intrusive,"

Posted on a site that has full screen adverts that like to absorb touch events on their mobile website, meaning you have to drag down the side of the advert if you actually want the page to scroll...

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Re: Funny you should say that...

that's why I either use Brave as my browser on mobile (ad blocking turned on by default) or surf via a VPN (PIA) which has an option to block ads/malware

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El Reg has ads? Huh.. wow, who knew, yuck

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Ads on El Reg.... oh yes, I remember those. About 15 years ago, I browsed with ads enabled because sites like El Reg deserved my support. Then El Reg and other sites started doing pop-up adverts, including the "cannot be closed" variety. Block them all!!!

There was a brief period of me seeing ads a few years ago, when browsers had started to get good pop-up blockers built-in, and Flash click-to-play and GIF anti-animation plugins. I saw a few static ads then and didn't mind that. But then advertisers started doing stupid Javascript tricks to show ads over the content. Block them again!

The thing is, I really wouldn't mind certain safe, unobtrusive ads. But the online advertising industry is intent on destroying itself by having maximally-intrusive adverts and by serving malware.

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Oh, just wait until you see my image- and DevOps-free version...

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Anonymous Coward

Simple solution...

Configure the ad blocker to silently "click on the ads" rather than just hiding them.

Everyone wins!

Well... everyone I care about....

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Re: Simple solution...

No, because they can use bandwidth usage as a Turing Test to see if their ads are really being "seen". The ONLY way to fool this would be to load the ad up and use up your precious data allowance.

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Re: Simple solution...

What a wonderful way to automate the task of installing malvertising hacks.

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Re: Simple solution...

'No, because they can use bandwidth usage as a Turing Test to see if their ads are really being "seen".'

A few moments' thought - OK, these are advertising people, a few days' thought - should show them that that really isn't information they want to have. If they don't have it they could, with as clear a conscience any advertising company could have, bill the client for an advert shown.

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Re: Simple solution...

No, because the client can demand PROOF, and they can obtain this for themselves by making test runs. Remember, this is a business contract, and fraud is BOTH a civil AND criminal offense (meaning not only can you be sued for the ill-gotten gains but you can also get thrown in prison for it).

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Theres way more crap on facebook than ads

I started using FB purity to restore the chronological ordering option after facebook removed it, getting rid of the ads and all the other elements of facebook that I had no interest in (trending, polls, etc) was a bonus, but now i'm used to it, i could see myself stepping away from the service if facebook managed to break it.

I use facebook to see what my friends are saying and view photos that they are sharing, and that remains all I want from it.

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Anonymous Coward

"modern day protection racket"

regardless of the HUGELY POSITIVE impact on end users, which I applaud, there's no denying the truth in this description of their "business model". They want the best from the two opposite sides, i.e. be good guys for the end user, and take money from ad-men. I don't think they'll get warm feelings (or cash) from either side.

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Alien

Should Facebook be worried?

What is this "Facebook"?

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