back to article More ad-versarial tech: Mozilla to pop limited ad blocker into Firefox

Mozilla intends to add basic ad filtering capabilities to its Firefox browser later this year, according to its recently updated roadmap. The move follows from what Asa Dotzler, Firefox roadmap and community leader at Mozilla, describes as changes that are making the web experience worse. "Trackers, intrusive ads and other …

  1. Bruce Ordway

    They lost me with Quantum

    I used to love all the control I had from add-ons but..... since the release of Quantum I've stayed away. Hopefully this means there is a brighter future ahead for Firefox users like me.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: They lost me with Quantum

      Most addon stuff has been ported to Quantum. I suggest you try again. Quoting Stargate Atlantis: "If it it does not work, try another thermonuclear explosion".

      Firefox-ESR as in Debian on older AMD APU is close to unusable. Quantum makes the machine usable again as these has disproportionally good GPUs and lousy CPUs. The same applies to those old netbooks which shipped with NVidia - you can use them as a broswer + typewriter once more.

      1. find users who cut cat tail

        Re: They lost me with Quantum

        > Most addon stuff has been ported to Quantum.

        I'm sorry, but most of the stuff was *somewhat* ported to Quantum. With developers cursing and scratching their heads while trying to build versions of their extensions that offer at least some reasonable portion of the previous functionality, And users cursing and scratching their heads while trying to to figure out how to recover the functionality they are used to.

        I am still in the ‘looking for the browser’ stage. Sometimes I use Firefox with start-from-scratch wipe-out-afterwards profiles for things that need to allow half of the universe to work properly, although I try to avoid these. If setting up a throw-away VM for each site I visit was a bit easier, I would be probably doing that. The web is a toxic dump nowadays...

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: They lost me with Quantum

      What alternative has anywhere near the amount of customization, even if Quantum has less than it used to? It isn't like Chrome is comparable, and I wouldn't care what it could do - the price of sharing all my browsing data with Google makes it a non-starter for me!

      If you switched to some browser with one or two percent of the market, I'm curious which one and why.

      1. dochego

        Re: They lost me with Quantum

        @DougS: Vivaldi

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: They lost me with Quantum

          For the most part, I use FF 52.7.2esr on Slackware-stable.

          However, I'm also using FF 59.0.1 on Slackware-current. It works quite nicely on this old laptop, with more than enough plugins to keep it from driving me batty with adverts/privacy issues, et alia. Might want to try it again.

          Vivaldi is a work in progress that looks like it will become a viable alternative in the not too distant future. Hopefully.

  2. Hstubbe

    Ublock origin filters all the ads, and that is just how i like my web. I'll gladly pay for sites i like and visit routinely. Such as el reg, where's the donation link?

    1. JakeMS
      Thumb Up

      I was just about to say the same thing!

      Mozilla should make default the following add-ons:

      - uBlock Origin

      - HTTPS Everywhere

      - NoScript

      - Privacy Badger

      Once they're all default features, set the default search engine to DuckDuckGo and we're good to go!

      1. Tim99 Silver badge

        @JakeMS

        I was initially very pleased with a combination of uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger on FireFox/macOS (and a custom hosts file), but found after using it for a while, I was getting some weird renderings and occasional hangs which needed a page refresh or even restarting the browser. I have replaced them with DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials and seem to get effective filtering/blocking without problems. The blocker also works well on Safari and, as mentioned in the article, the Page Reader usually gives a nicely formatted clean page - This page can be directly printed to PDF which is handy for those of us with fading eyesight.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: Privacy Badger

        Not sure I would trust that considering it's the EFF and how much money google pays them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: re: Privacy Badger

          https://www.ctrl.blog/entry/privacy-badgering

          Enjoy, does not block everything and uses a heuristic approach to tracking rather than a block list, sounds like a perfect extension to me that can be trusted. /s

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Once they're all default features, set the default search engine to DuckDuckGo"

        Change that to StartPage and I'm interested. Duck is far to US leaning for my likes.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That sounds like TOR Browser

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Without ad's

    I couldn't are less about adverts. I just ignore those that I have no interest in. Hell, without adverts, how would I know about things that exist that I would want?

    And surely if sites don't have income, then won't they eventually cease to exist? If it comes to that, how many people would work for nowt but expect everything for free? I sure as hell expect to be paid for my work.

    Just saying.

    I do use Ghostery though.

    Cheers.. Ishy

    1. Tomato42 Silver badge

      Re: Without ad's

      given how often ads are attack vectors, I think you should start caring about ads a bit more

    2. Not also known as SC

      Re: Without ad's

      Try visiting the Independent’s website with no script blocking and without. Can you honestly say that the vanilla experience with its extended load time, videos which auto play and chase you down the page and other cruft is as nice to use as the site when just the host it self is given permission to run scripts? This is without even considering what tracking is being implemented in the background.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Without ad's

      Even if you don't care about privacy, ads are an eyesore.

      On some websites (usually blogs or news sites, which I shall not name here), the ratio of ad to content is just ridiculous. It is annoying to read an article and have it interjected halfway by an ad.

      And on Chinese sites, the amount of ads (often flashing video clips) is just too much.

      There are other ways to support a particular site, if you're so inclined.

      Virtue signalling about how much more fair-minded you are by allowing ads is just asinine.

    4. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Without ad's

      The problem is they don't only display ads, which, within limits, is acceptable. The problem is most (or maybe, all) of them also tracks you across your whole time online, and try to build profiles of you - and then sell those profiles...

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Without ad's

      <quote>I sure as hell expect to be paid for my work.</quote>

      Is shilling on behalf of the ad industry your work? Go on then, tell us who's paid you for posting here.

  4. jake Silver badge

    Ads?

    What ads?

  5. unwarranted triumphalism

    Adblocking is stealing

    Which is why I don't use an adblocker. Instead I block all ad serving domains in the hosts file.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Adblocking is stealing

      What, precisely, do think you're stealing? If anything you're preventing them from stealing your CPU cycles.

    2. Not also known as SC

      Re: Adblocking is stealing

      I find a multi-prong attack to be best. Ad serving domains blocked on the router and scripts blocked locally on the computer because there are always going to be some domains I need to use sometimes (like Google) but that I don't want to block all the time.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Adblocking is stealing

      Depriving someone of ad revenue through ad blocking is not 'stealing'.

      Similarly, software piracy is not 'theft'... it is just 'copyright infringement'.

      Using emotion-laden buzz words will not alter reality.

      1. Chronos Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Adblocking is stealing

        AC wrote: Depriving someone of ad revenue through ad blocking is not 'stealing'.

        Similarly, software piracy is not 'theft'... it is just 'copyright infringement'.

        Using emotion-laden buzz words will not alter reality.

        Whoosh!

        That was the OP's point, methinks. Doesn't matter which technical workaround makes the web usable for you, it has to be done to retain a) responsiveness of your desktop and b) sanity.

        Revenue from the W³ is a relatively new concept anyway and wasn't foremost in TB-L's mind when he created the thing. Therefore, as a greybeard who remembers hypertext on floppies, I reserve the right to preserve the original intent of the web as a tool for shared knowledge rather than prop up someone else's flawed business model.

    4. Andy1

      Re: Adblocking is stealing

      "I block all ad serving domains in the hosts file"

      What does this even mean to the average Joe like me. I use ABP, it works for me, as for any other method, I wouldn't have a clue as I'm not as tech savvy like those who usually post here. If a site doesn't work until I turn off ABP I either agree or quit out of it if I'm not that bothered. This is my perspective as a user and not an IT guy.

    5. Chronos Silver badge

      Re: Adblocking is stealing

      @unwarranted triumphalism: The sarcasm in this post is utterly wasted on at least 11 people.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Adblocking is stealing

        @Chronos.

        Read his other posts. This one wasn't sarcasm.

        1. unwarranted triumphalism

          Re: Adblocking is stealing

          Yes it was.

        2. unwarranted triumphalism

          Re: Adblocking is stealing

          Wow, downvotes for sarcasm. Didn't see that one coming.

        3. Chronos Silver badge

          Re: Adblocking is stealing

          Read his other posts. This one wasn't sarcasm.

          Well, from the subtext I got "Ad-blocking is morally wrong but blackholing bad hosts is good security practice? Yeah, right, the two are virtually the same thing."

    6. BobChip
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Adblocking is stealing

      Adblocking is NOT stealing. Unsolicited advertising hogging my bandwidth IS. The adslingers are soaking up bandwidth I have paid for, without my consent, meaning that I cannot use it for the purposes for which I paid for it. Taking someone else's goods without their consent satisfies every definition of theft that I have ever seen.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Adblocking is stealing

        Put it this way. If ad blocking becomes ubiquitous, either ads will get more aggressive to the point of becoming unblockable, or a lot of Web content, good or bad, is going to start disappearing.

        1. Grikath

          Re: Adblocking is stealing

          "Put it this way. If ad blocking becomes ubiquitous, either ads will get more aggressive to the point of becoming unblockable, or a lot of Web content, good or bad, is going to start disappearing."

          Point 1: if ads become that agressive, even the most clueless consumers will catch on, and turn away from sites that employ them. Even the pr0n industry has learned that lesson... eventually...

          Point 2: The web could do with a bit of culling. The most annoying sites are clickbait/revenue generation caroussels anyway. Good riddance.

          Most sites where people try to make a living off creating content have a Patreon (or similar) solution in place, and as a result a stricly limited and light ad-load on the site itself. Limited enough to whitelist those sites.

      2. The Sprocket

        Re: Adblocking is stealing

        "Adblocking is NOT stealing. Unsolicited advertising hogging my bandwidth IS. The adslingers are soaking up bandwidth I have paid for, without my consent, meaning that I cannot use it for the purposes for which I paid for it. Taking someone else's goods without their consent satisfies every definition of theft that I have ever seen."

        Well, the sword cuts both ways. You are right in the sense that it does hog bandwidth without asking permission, and the videos that start loading really drive me nuts as well (What ever happened to opt-in?). But in the cases where sites are funded by advertising (and would/could only exist with the revenue it brings in) the owners feel it needs to exist. It is their prerogative. And it is yours to visit or leave, accordingly. So in a way, using an adblocker on those sites, is stealing their content by way of viewing without their form of 'payment'. Trust me -- I'm not fond of online advertising either, even though I spent 20+ years working in it as a senior creative guy. The last point is, 99.999% advertising is UNSOLICITED, be it magazine, newspaper, television, outdoor, transit, and the list goes on. Block it if you wish (online) as I do, but it STILL is a form of stealing.

    7. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Re: Adblocking is stealing

      Would you pay to receive unfranked mail that turned out to be marketing crud? Ditto accepting collect phone calls from marketers? For those with metered Internet, ads ARE stealing.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Adblocking is stealing

        Catch is, they'll tell you it's the price of admission, thus payment is demanded in advance or you go without.

        1. Chronos Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: Adblocking is stealing

          Catch is, they'll tell you it's the price of admission, thus payment is demanded in advance or you go without.

          Fine, then I'll go without, just as long as they also remove their bloody annoying crap from the search engines too. When I search for, for example, firmware for something, I do not want to buy one of what I'm trying to fix. Odds are that if I'm looking for firmware it's broken in a new and heretofore undiscovered way anyway and they'll be skating on Styx before I ever buy another one.

          "A fire broke out today at Alphabet headquarters. Trapped employees searched for fire fighting equipment and got 3,000,000 hits, none relevant or useful. In other news..."

          Ad flingers can be indirectly annoying. We're assuming that these ad-supported sites are the only repositories of knowledge when, in reality, the actual fonts of wisdom would likely have a better chance of being found if the commercial crap just sodded off and stopped SEO'ing themselves into your search results.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Adblocking is stealing

      you deserve all the upvotes in the world for successful and regular trolling of supposedly "tech-savvy" users. Which just proves people never learn

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If reader mode counts....

    Then Firefox is already covered that part too. Very helpful on Firefox mobile for reading news feeds or online novels if you're into that sort of thing...

    Annon because I'm not letting you lot know who's just fessed up to reading web novels.,

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: If reader mode counts....

      Reader mode is damn clever. It take the website and turns it back into a good old basic website that is very easy on the eyes.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reminds me of Microsoft Defender

    There are already competent solutions out there to fix your problem, but you just had to come up with your own solution and bake it into your software.

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: Reminds me of Microsoft Defender

      "There are already competent solutions out there to fix your problem, but you just had to come up with your own solution and bake it into your software."

      I've seen plenty of technically inept people go to e.g. Youtube by writing youtube on Google search box and clicking the first link. These people would never install an adblocker so I am pretty happy that there is at least *some* protection out of the box.

      Same with Defender - it is disabled when you install a 3rd party AV. Or you can just disable it yourself if you really want to.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Reminds me of Microsoft Defender

        I've seen plenty of technically inept people go to e.g. Youtube by writing youtube on Google search box and clicking the first link.

        Ah, you've met my wife then...

        (anonymous for the obvious reasons)

  8. teknopaul Silver badge

    Make it wotk

    Mozilla should focus on making things work; not making things not work.

    Lots of bugs get 'close no fix' because security.

    Mozilla act like the only thing you do with your browser is surf dodgy porn sites on the Web.

    Chrome defaults to secure, and has command line switches to be able to develop.

    Simple.

    Make it work.

    None of their new features have brought in customers. When will they learn.

    1. unwarranted triumphalism

      Re: Make it wotk

      > Mozilla act like the only thing you do with your browser is surf dodgy porn sites on the Web.

      They know me quite well then.

    2. Franco Silver badge

      Re: Make it wotk

      I'd be a lot more sympathetic to the Chrome viewpoint if it didn't end up on an awful lot of machines via drive-by download. Firefox may not be the discerning choice it once was, but at least it is still a choice.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My biggest complaint about ads is how they are SO FRICKIN BORING and almost NEVER relate to me at all. I let my browsing be tracked purely because I WANT them to figure out stuff I'm interested in and show me ads for it. But nooooo I get ads for stuff I don't care a dime about, and if I actually BUY something from Amazon, what do I get? MORE ADS for that exact same kind of thing, which I now don't need, cos I JUST BOUGHT ONE.

    Please hurry up and profile me better and target ads at me that I actually want. I like buying stuff. I like reading about cool new stuff.

    Still it could be worse, it could be like the inane drivel 'brand awareness' ads that you get forced to watch on broadcast TV.

    </rant> now what was I doing?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Consuming?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @CodySydney

      Oh how I agree with you.

  10. Christian Berger Silver badge

    You'd expect a FOSS browser to be on the forefront of this

    Unfortunately Mozilla has long turned into a commercial company just like the others.

    Since Mozilla also constantly works on making browsers more and more complex, and therefore harder and harder to implement, we won't get any actually "free" (as in speech) browser any time soon.

    Maybe it's time to ditch the web for something more simpler.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: You'd expect a FOSS browser to be on the forefront of this

      Bit the $64M question; how do you keep it running? Libraries run on tax money. Even nonprofits solicit donations.

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: You'd expect a FOSS browser to be on the forefront of this

        "Bit the $64M question; how do you keep it running?"

        You shouldn't need a million dollar company just to implement one of the most basic standards of the Internet. Browsers should be something a single person could do within a reasonable amount of time. It should be something someone can do as a master thesis.

        1. dbtx Bronze badge

          Re: You'd expect a FOSS browser to be on the forefront of this

          In a reasonable amount of time, as part of your master's thesis, you could probably produce a competitor to Lynx. I wish the best of luck to Alex Kontos as FF's codebase diverges wildly from WF's needs :(

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You'd expect a FOSS browser to be on the forefront of this

          @Christian Berger

          Go then. Do it and then give it away for free.

          Oh sorry, I didn't see this bit of your post which I have corrected for you.

          It should be something someone (else) can do as a master thesis.

          Cheers… Ishy

        3. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: You'd expect a FOSS browser to be on the forefront of this

          But the standard's a moving target. Even Telnet and FTP have been deprecated. Who gets paid to keep up with the work through the years?

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: You'd expect a FOSS browser to be on the forefront of this

            "Even Telnet and FTP have been deprecated."

            Really? By whom? I use both daily. Right tool for the job & all that.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: You'd expect a FOSS browser to be on the forefront of this

              You're not worried about your communications being intercepted on the wire, then? Isn't that why SSH and SFTP are the standard-bearers now?

      2. boatsman

        Re: You'd expect a FOSS browser to be on the forefront of this

        We, the government should ensure this.

        Of course we first need to take it, i.e. The Government, back from the clowns and the billionaires who control them, we gave it to...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Kepp it local and keep it simple don't beat up your viewers with trash

    Add blockers would not work if advertising was coming from the site that you actually visited and was just simple text and pictures, not followers and trackers from all over the net.

    Note to theRegister -

    Yes I would tolerate some locally sourced advertising.

    I will not be able to visit again if I am smothered or beaten to death with advertising.

    Relevant In-line adds work best, sidebar advertising annoy very quickly.

    I don't value annoying advertised products highly and stay away from the product and company.

  12. Milton Silver badge

    To the list of annoying things ...

    To the list of annoying things ... may we add sites which, for some reason, insist on repeating the same article several times on the same page? I know El Reg has an article headlined "Painfully Laboured Juvenile Pun Here", and that it appears three down and two across, and then again seven down and one across, and then again ... I've got a pair of 28in UHD monitors here and I do not need to see the same story three times on a single page. What's the point? To emphasise lack of fresh content?

    If you're afraid folks with smaller screens will miss stories, well— try writing informative, memorable and engaging headlines. Instead of shit that wasn't funny even the first time, and has become truly off-putting by the ninth appearance.

    PS: WIRED used to do the same thing, and even worse, but thank god they put up a paywall. Don't miss 'em in the slightest. I just needed that tiny nudge to take the link off my bookmarks. El Reg, on the other hand, might hook me with a "No ads if you'll micro-pay" scheme, especially the premium offering: "Plus we'll employ adults as sub-eds, if you pay extra"

  13. fpx
    Flame

    Already Complicit

    They could have added much-desired configuration options to block invasive forms of advertising (flashing images, background reloads, autoplay videos, sound, pop-ups) years ago but didn't. That they did not want to give users the option of disabling annoying ads to me always signalled that they did not want to tread on advertising business.

  14. j.bourne
    Big Brother

    Ongoing war for control of display to consumer

    When browsers 'filter' ads (i.e. decide which ads you see and which you don't) based on their own blacklists/whitelists controlled by the browser developers - then how Google and FB etc... are determining which ads to display to the user becomes a moot point if ffox decides to block an FB ad yet show a Google one for a competing product/ideology.

    Don't fall down the hole thinking that this is any more for the benefit of users, it's about who controls what you see when you are browsing the web. (hint: it's not you).

  15. MrAnonCoward43
    Big Brother

    I thought we'd all switch to Brave

    right?

  16. boatsman

    Firefox private mode = ad killer.

    Even facebook shuts up

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