Sunday, 7 December 2014

Feel free to block ads

It's 2014, and I'm browsing a review website owned by the internet giant Amazon.

Important Message: A required driver is missing


There's no option to report the ad. I assume the close button is supposed to mean "I'm not interested in this ad, please show me different ones instead." (I wouldn't recommend you click anywhere on such an ad, by the way). AdChoices, the button next to Close... technically gives you an option to report this ad, but basically only if you're a lawyer.  (You need to either own a trademark being misused - as Windows is here - or read the T&Cs for Google's ad service and find a violation.

I chose "ad takes over the screen" from the close button menu instead, which allegedly flagged the ad for human review. However I saw an identical ad minutes later (on the same site), so the close button doesn't seem to do anything.

So I'm sorry, Ars Technica. I'm not going to feel guilty about disabling Flash (which this ad happens to use) just because you get more money for Flash ads. I'm not going to feel guilty about setting Flash to "click to play", and using a technical mechanism that assumes you were actually doing something important with Flash, that you'd prefer I see "click to play" instead of a fallback image advert. I'm not going to feel guilty about disabling Javascript (which almost all ads use). Or EFF's PrivacyBadger which effectively blocks you until you promise to implement Do-Not-Track. Or Firefox's new project to block third-party trackers (like ads, or at least the targeting that makes them cost-effective).

Nor will I feel guilty about providing AdBlock on people's computers to protect them from fraudulent adverts like this one.

If I use your site regularly I'll start to trust it, and if I don't remember seeing abusive ads on it, I'll make a good-faith effort to unblock you. Personally I will not tolerate attention-grabbing animations, but I can't speak for others and I have cognitive differences.