Google Manipulating AdBlock Plus, Report Suggests

Dennis Faas's picture

A new report finds that one of the web's most popular ad-blocking browser extensions, AdBlock Plus, has allowed some advertisers to pay money in order to circumvent the software's blocking feature.

If you're not familiar with it, AdBlock Plus is one of the Internet's leading ad blocking programs. It's available for several different web browsers, including Mozilla's Firefox, Google's Chrome, and Opera.

Previously, Mozilla has said that AdBlock Plus is both its most-used and most-downloaded browser extension.

Not All Advertisers Treated Equally

Once installed, the open source program supposedly allows users to block "banners, pop-ups and video ads." However, a new report suggests that not every advertisement is treated the same.

AdBlock Plus management says it sometimes allows certain "not-intrusive" ads to be shown. Why? Because websites need the revenue. In order to bypass AdBlock Plus controls, however, these ads cannot display animations or sounds.

In order for an advertisement to be "whitelisted", AdBlock Plus says firms need to pay a fee. (Source:

Critics Concerned About Google's Manipulation of ABP

Here's how the company explains the situation:

"Whitelisting is free for all small websites and blogs. However, managing this list requires significant effort on our side and this task cannot be completely taken over by volunteers as it happens with common filter lists. That's why we are being paid by some larger properties that serve nonintrusive advertisements that want to participate in the Acceptable Ads initiative."

Experts believe AdBlock Plus is pointing to Google when it refers to "larger properties". (Source:

Such standards have left many critics fuming.

"It's easy to see Google and others buying the right to put ads in front of web-browsing users, with Adblock Plus essentially acting as a gatekeeper meting out access to that sizeable chunk of consumers," said TechCruch's Darrell Etherington.

"[This] gives Adblock a lot of power, and companies like Google that can pay a sizeable advantage over mid-sized competitors who can't." (Source:

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