back to article AdBlock blocker biz bought

Ad blocker AdBlock has been bought by an unknown purchaser – but the signs say that the blocker has probably been gobbled by rival Adblock Plus. AdBlock said yesterday that it has been acquired by an unnamed purchaser, and that it is now participating in Germany's Adblock Plus Acceptable Ads system, which sets the criteria for …

  1. Tom Maddox Silver badge
    Stop

    One word

    Ublock.

    1. ScissorHands
      Devil

      Re: One word

      Two words: uBlock Origin

      1. nematoad Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: One word

        Or a string:

        Adblock Latitude + Palemoon.

        It works for me.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: One word

        two words again: Adblock edge

        but to pre-empt: FOR NOW. Because it looks likely all the non-kosher (i.e. fuck you ALL advertisers) spin-offs will be bought off and will join the happy-clappy suck-the-advertisers Adblock band.

        Can't blame them, though. How much would you sell your morals? 10K? 100K? It's all very nice to say: I wouldn't sell, full stop, when you consider purely hypothetically. Quite different from being dangled a real wad of cash in a real world.

        I just hope they won't be able to buy them all :(

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: One word

          It's been said before "every man has is price". That obviously includes Adblock.

          Downvote it if you like but it's been proven time and time again... especially in IT.

          1. sabroni Silver badge

            Re: Downvote it if you like but it's been proven time and time again

            It's been proven that EVERYONE has a price? Where's the research that did that then?

            1. JetSetJim Silver badge

              Re: Downvote it if you like but it's been proven time and time again

              > It's been proven that EVERYONE has a price? Where's the research that did that then?

              It's here (for example), but I can't be bothered to pay to read the whole thing. It seems the paper/project starts from the hypothesis that modern day reality TV is encouraging everyone to lose their values in pursuit of currency (either hard currency, or fame, which may lead to hard currency).

              Just look at the Kardashian clan (if you can bear to look).

          2. Jim 59

            Re: One word

            Agree with Mark 85.

            Once they get the green light, larger advertisers must pay ABP a fee for their ads to appear in people's browsers.

            A regressive business model. It could be argued that what ABP has done is (a) to release a "virus" that attacks legitimate (albeit annoying) advertising software, and (b) demand a sum to re-enable it again.

            Couldn't it be classed as extortion, just like wheel clamping is in Scotland ? Impeding legitimate business operations then demanding money to remove the impediment ?

            Admit I use Adblock for all sites except El Reg.

            1. Danny 14 Silver badge

              Re: One word

              Diladele at the firewall. Ads are filtered here on any browser be they mobile, tablet ot pc.

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: One word

            "every man has is price"

            Especially if given the option of "sell to us or we'll litigate you into bankruptcy"

    2. Mark Simon

      Re: One word

      Agreed.

      I stopped using AdBlock when it started slowing down everything, and when it became apparent that it was not entirely doing the job.

      I started using uBlock Origin when I leaned more about what had happened to uBlock.

      1. theModge

        Re: uBlock Origin

        I actually made the switch for effiancy - I'd turned off whitelisted ads anyway, but the adblock Plus was notably slowing things down.

    3. Florida1920

      Re: One word

      More than once I've read a comment about some app being "faster" but it's been impossible to discern. Not so with uBlock, which I just installed. Only took a minute to figure out how to block those annoying head photos on Reg articles. One place I definitely see a faster load is on Pandora, which I run in Chrome (uBlock Origin on Chrome). ABP reported blocking 28 objects and Pandora took several seconds to load. With uBlock it loads way faster, and uBlock is reporting 42 objects blocked. I use FF for everything but Netflix and Pandora so I don't inadvertently close a tab while multitasking. The FF implementation is also much faster on several ad-heavy news sites I frequent. Good luck to ABP et al; they have some catching up to do.

    4. Mad_Max

      Re: One word

      Sellout

      What's the fastest way to lose 40 million AdBlock users?

  2. fruitoftheloon
    Happy

    Now there's a freudian slap if ever I saw one...

    several 'trussed' sources...

    Indeed!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now there's a freudian slap if ever I saw one...

      >> several trussed sources

      Bound to be telling the truth.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Now there's a freudian slap if ever I saw one...

      "Now there's a freudian slap if ever I saw one..."

      I still like the Frasier joke: "What's a Freudian slip? It's when you want to say one thing and really say a mother."

      1. Martin Maloney
        Coat

        Re: Now there's a freudian slap if ever I saw one...

        Freudian slip: An undergarment worn by a cross-dressing psychoanalyst

  3. Shades

    AdBlocker?

    An adblocker that lets ads through? I wonder how appealing they would find curtains that allowed "acceptable" strangers to peer into their homes when they want some privacy?

    1. petur

      Re: AdBlocker?

      You mean like the NSA/GCHQ?

    2. VinceH

      Re: AdBlocker?

      "I wonder how appealing they would find curtains that allowed "acceptable" strangers to peer into their homes when they want some privacy?"

      That's what IoT iOUT devices are for.

    3. John Tserkezis

      Re: AdBlocker?

      "I wonder how appealing they would find curtains that allowed "acceptable" strangers to peer into their homes"

      Of course, only the peepers with high quality cameras are allowed. I don't want amateurs watching - that would be creepy.

    4. Manbriee

      Re: AdBlocker?

      You can turn that option off anytime and close that stranger out forever. You can do that even right after install so you never have to fear strangers,.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: You can turn that option off anytime

        No, people should not be given that option.

  4. Mike Bell

    Cheeky

    They invite you to make a financial contribution when you install their software. And subsequently take money from advertisers to circumvent the very purpose of said software.

    We live in a funny world.

  5. Anonymous C0ward

    Extra lists

    and disable acceptable ads. Easy.

    1. Joe User
      Unhappy

      Re: Extra lists

      Until the advertisers pay Eyeo GmbH enough money to remove the "Allow some non-intrusive advertising" checkbox and make it mandatory....

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Extra lists

        Yes, it is letting the genie out of the bottle.

        For a starter, independent outfit or not, there's no objective measure of acceptable. Which by definition means that there is no fence round the unacceptable either.

  6. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Huh....

    I have to be honest, I assumed Adblock and Adblock Plus already had the same owner.

    1. John Tserkezis

      Re: Huh....

      "I have to be honest, I assumed Adblock and Adblock Plus already had the same owner."

      It's an easy assumption to make. I thought Plus was a "spinoff" where the original (adblock) writers abandoned or didn't go in the direction others wanted.

      The more I look into it, the comparisons and such, depending on who you ask, it appears Adblock has a bit of a scammy reputation. Never used it, since everyone claimed Adblock Plus was "better" so I don't know.

      What I DO want to know is, is it safe to upgrade after the buyout, or do I have to resort to trying to forcefit old version addons to new versions of firefox? Or will there be another Adblock Super Plus?

  7. Robigus
    Thumb Down

    Oh, dear - he used "that" word - the truth bypass word.

    "I believe this is a great time for you users."

    By using the word "believe", all credence from a statement can be assumed to be missing. A slippery word used by politicians and marketeers alike as a shortcut to "I have to say this" or "It's insane and I can't back it up with anything even passing close to a sentient rationale, so this word is my Get Out Of Jail word that bypasses the lot."

    "Each man has his price Bob, and yours was pretty low."

  8. Mr Dogshit
    Alien

    Blimey, this is spooky

    Just as I was reading this, Adblock Plus was updating itself to a newer version on my PC. I clicked cancel.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    OpenDNS with blocking of adverts etc. is a useful addition to in-browser blocking.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Meh

      Then I guess you don't mind OpenDNS mistyped URL hijacking?

      I have nothing against OpenDNS, but you're swapping one advertising medium for another, it's just they get the money, not the destination site.

  10. Steven Roper

    One thing that people seem to be missing

    All these adblockers use standard blocklists. Whether it's Adblock, Adblock Plus, Adblock Edge, UBlock, UBlock Origin or whatever, they are only as good as the blocklists they employ. Without a blocklist, an ablocker is useless.

    Most adblockers use lists like the EasyList, ABPindo list, Fanboy's Ultimate Block List, etc. EasyList is the most commonly deployed one and the first one to come up when you set your filter subscription. These lists are updated whenever the ad companies set up new domains and servers, to keep those servers blocked. But the bottom line is, it is the list, not the adblocker, that controls the actual blocking.

    So my thought is, when an adblocker company sells out to advertisers, they must set up a hidden "counter-blocklist" that disregards whatever blocklist is subscribed when it comes to certain ad servers (in much the same way Windows 10 ignores the hosts file for certain Microsoft telemetry servers.) It can't be the blocklist itself that's compromised, otherwise it would be impossible to turn on total blocking of all ads in the adblocker.

    Which leads inevitably to the conclusion that sooner or later the ad companies will approach the blocklist maintainers, rather than the adblocker makers, and dangle some cash. If they can compromise a major blocklist like EasyList and get their ad server taken off it, that would affect ALL adblockers that use that list, Adblock and UBlock alike - for the price of one bribe instead of several to different adblocker makers, and at the same time remove the ability to turn on total blocking of all ads in any adblocker.

    Of course, the moment EasyList sells out it opens the door for an alternative list to take over. But even if it did, this would mark the beginning of yet another endless update war that we'll have to fight to keep control of our computers and internet experience.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One thing that people seem to be missing

      "Which leads inevitably to the conclusion that sooner or later the ad companies will approach the blocklist maintainers, rather than the adblocker makers, and dangle some cash. If they can compromise a major blocklist like EasyList and get their ad server taken off it, that would affect ALL adblockers that use that list, Adblock and UBlock alike - for the price of one bribe instead of several to different adblocker makers, and at the same time remove the ability to turn on total blocking of all ads in any adblocker."

      That may be true, but the list will be easier to maintain than the program; furthermore, many have at least some community contribution. So there's less upkeep cost to it, allowing their maintainers to operate more on a pro bono basis and make it more likely they're operating on principle, not payment; such principled operators are less likely to take a bribe.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: One thing that people seem to be missing

        Or they'll just find a subtle way to continually poison the list so mainstream sites fail and users give up. I have no doubt that given the money involved here the gloves are off.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: One thing that people seem to be missing

          There are only so many mainstream sites, and once found they can be whitelisted so they can't be poisoned again.

    2. MobilegeeksDE

      Re: One thing that people seem to be missing

      That's how both Adblock Plus and Adblock work now, the adblockers use a separate whitelist. But it's not hidden at all, it's here https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/exceptionrules.txt (don't be surprised, there are a lot of domain grabbers, toolbar vendors or link farms in this list. Eyeo is not picky with the choice of the companies in this list, they just care if the ad itself is "acceptable".

      This whitelist automatically overrides the filter rules of *all* blacklists, whether it's EasyList, ABPindo list, Fanboy's Ultimate Block List, etc. inside Adblock, Adblocks Plus and Crystal (iOS). The most popular filter list is EasyList, which is also (mostly) hosted on the servers of Eyeo https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/easylist.txt (they simply offer the fastest connections, that's why most of the other adblockers include this URL, too, by default).

      It's also an open secret that a few - at least one where we know the real name - of Eyeo's employees maintain both the easylist and the whitelist. But, to make that clear at this point, we have *no* evidence that the Easylist contains any filters to led ads through. Nevertheless you're totally right when you write that it's at least alarming and has to be monitored that both lists are hosted (and partly maintained) by the same company. A company that controls the two most popular adblockers with approx. 100 million users.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ublockO uses much less in resources than adblock+ .

  12. JEF_UK

    I paid for AB!

    I paid for Add Block, I've oped out of acceptable.

    I have a 30GB limit on my joke "broadband"( 2Mbs^-1) so I'm intolerant of junk. Even here and your probably one of the places I might consider white-listing.

    I've been building up DNS list for the things that got through AB for a while, Been using OpenDNS (now Cisco ( ugh?* ) for years as I expect most of you use the reliable 8.8.8.8 for more than just a ping test...

    https://xkcd.com/1361/

    *as the ugh implies it may be time to look and see if the openNIC DNS servers can do what I want https://www.opennicproject.org/ I.E. Block things at the DNS level.

    Alternative is to create my own. I've ran a DNS server for <2000 domains as part of our Linux hosting.

    Create zone&entry in zones.master for DNS record/zone I want to block and point it at a blocked message page so I don't have to wait for time outs.

    Then use root hints for anything 'I'm not_"Authoritative" ;)' for.

    Next when they are wise to that I guess we start to see add servers lined by IP, then I have to use either routes or ACLs and wait for the time outs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I paid for AB!

      "Next when they are wise to that I guess we start to see add servers lined by IP, then I have to use either routes or ACLs and wait for the time outs."

      Except direct IP numbers are a lot harder to maintain. Many sites can jump IPs when they jump providers as part of competitive hosting renegotiation. That's one significant reason for DNS: to allow a single lookup no matter where the host moves in terms of IP. IOW, it's a part-and-parcel problem: making it easier for Joe User also makes it easy to be blocked by blacklists, and the only way to make it harder also makes it harder to maintain your own links.

  13. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Meh

    I still use Proxomitron

    It's a little dated, but still does a pretty good job of removing ALL ads from most sites, unless they are directly hosted by the same domain the site is on.

  14. Infernoz Bronze badge
    Devil

    The lesson is don't trust just one ad blocker and watch for compromise

    AdBlock * was dead to me months ago.

    Have Ghostery, Privacy Badger and uBlock Origin in this Firefox together with NoScript etc.

    Cheers for the mention of uBlock Origin in the past.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The lesson is don't trust just one ad blocker and watch for compromise

      Don't waste too much effort - it's a flash in the pan. Ad and privacy blocking having now reached critical mass serving ads locally [and sharing user data server-side] will become the norm in 2016 - and there's Jack Shit you can do about that.

      If Google/AdSense don't get a shift on with their platform updates, I guess we might see a more interesting market place for advertisers - but don't really see any other positives beyond a few golden months of freeloading.

    2. Holtsmark

      Re: The lesson is don't trust just one ad blocker and watch for compromise

      Based on this article (and the forum comments) I immediately switched from AdBlock to uBlock Origin.

      Thnx for the info.

  15. jason 7 Silver badge

    Having all these blockers and privacy add ons installed in my Firefox...

    ...has meant a lot of -

    "Oh FFS, let's just load up my bare copy of Chrome and look at it/buy it there!"

    Privacy Badger seems the worst for just making sites flat out refuse to work.

    1. Missing Semicolon
      Happy

      Re: Having all these blockers and privacy add ons installed in my Firefox...

      Odd. I've found that the number of borken sites with Privacy Badger to be many less than with NoScript/Adblock. However, I did uninstall all other ad/privacy filters, so I'm only using PB - I suspect that helps.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No love for MVPS HOSTS? Works for me.

    Also, sites detect adblock & pro not an hosts file block.

  17. lansalot

    ...

    I'd be more worried about the fact that the codebase is now in another's hands. Who knows if their intentions are perhaps quite as honorable...

    40 million machine botnet, anyone?

  18. SolidSquid

    There's a checkbox in the adblock plus configuration to ignore the Acceptable Ads thing and just block everything, which in fairness to them was mentioned in the popup I got when it recently updated the extension to include the feature. Whether it actually *does* ignore the whitelist is another matter, but I still don't seem to be getting much in the way of ads

  19. Uncle Ron

    More and More Horrible

    The entire internet experience is rapidly tumbling down the loo. Like every other commercial enterprise, websites are spending much more effort attempting to get more revenue from their product vs. spending to actually improve the product. Spend as little as possible and gather more and more revenue, as much as possible, is the mantra, delivered by their staff MBA's, of every commercial website.

    Pop-ups and pop-backs, and overlays, and drop-downs, and unwanted videos, and animated gif's and more and more and more. If newspapers had slapped you in the face with adverts at every turn like the web does, they would have gone out of business a hundred years before they did. Go to any non-commercial or non-advert-supported website and see how stunningly fast the site loads and appears compared to ANY commercial website as it makes dozens of trips to other url's sending and receiving data and taking down metrics and accessing cookies on your machine and then gathering ad content from dozens of other servers all over the planet, and then spends multiple more seconds organizing, rendering, and finally displaying all the ads and commercials and other crap.

    The whole thing is about to stink way too much. I have completely abandoned many sites I used to like.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Once they get the green light, larger advertisers must pay ABP a fee for their ads to appear in people's browsers"

    What, you mean just like a protection racket ?

  21. Rol Silver badge

    What of the future?

    Well, I see a niche market in selective hate-mongering.

    Dislike arms manufacturers? Then have a blacklist of all arms manufacturers that we will constantly update and thus their adverts will never appear on your browser.

    Hate Conservatives?...Fossil fuels?..Hippies?...

    Eventually the pollsters that sniff the market need only ring up the Adblocker hate compilers to get the low down on public opinion.

  22. tekHedd

    Unacceptable ads will continue forever

    ...as long as you allow "acceptable" ads on a per-ad basis.

    I don't use anybody's block lists. Using a new installation of Ublock Origin, I can load about three web sites, blocking only servers that send me flashing, blinky, intrusive ads, and suddenly I notice there are no ads whatsoever. I have to manually block about three ads per install, and maybe one or two more a month later.

    Allow "nonintrusive" content through from a company that, without an ad blocker, serves unacceptable intrusive ads? No. If you can't behave well without an ad blocker regulating your content, I don't want to do business with you at all. End of story.

  23. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    bluhell does it for me

    A few honest ads get through here or there but for the most part it blocks all the cruft unobtrusively with any complaint or noticeable performance hit.

    Also got the big advantage of also working on Firefox for Android too, no need to mess around rooting the phone or setting a proxy up.

  24. Zmodem

    and a great time his wife is going to be having spending all the new money

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