Facebook to Block Ad-Blockers

John Lister's picture

Facebook says it will stop ad-blocking software from working on its website. It says ads are a core part of using Facebook, but will give users more control over which ads they see.

Andrew Bosworth, who heads up Facebook's advertising division, announced the move in a blog post and followed up with comments to the Wall Street Journal. In the post, he accused the makers of ad-blocking tools of accepting money from advertisers to let their ads through, rather than block them. According to Bosworth, that's a sign ad-blocker makers don't always have the user's best interests at heart. (Source: fb.com)

Seeing Ads is 'Part Of Experience'

Speaking to the Journal, he outright said Facebook users should be seeing ads: "Facebook is ad-supported. Ads are a part of the Facebook experience; they're not a tack on." (Source: wsj.com)

Facebook is better placed than many sites to attempt to battle ad-blockers because it places the ads on the pages itself. Other sites often use a third-party service and ad-blockers can easily spot when the content is coming from such a service.

In effect, Facebook's new approach will be to remove any clue in the coding that advertising content is different to the normal content on its site, such as user posts. However, at least one major ad-blocker service has heavily implied it will try to find a workaround.

Users Can Block Some Advertisers

Bosworth believes many ad-blocker users didn't object to advertising in principle, but rather the way it was carried out, particularly when it didn't appear relevant. He thinks those users will be happy with ads now that Facebook is adding extra controls.

Users will be able to nominate subjects about which they don't want to see ads. They'll also be able to select specific companies whose ads they don't want to see. This will only affect advertisers who already have the user's contact details.

According to Bosworth, boosting ad revenue isn't the main reason for the move. He points out that the vast majority of Facebook's ad revenue comes via its mobile app, where ad-blocking tools are usually less effective.

What's Your Opinion?

Is Facebook right to try to stop ad-blockers? Is it moral to use a free site such as Facebook if you aren't prepared to see advertising there? Or should users retain complete control over which ads they see?

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Dennis Faas's picture

As a web publisher, I completely agree with this move - though, there are a ton of people out there that feel otherwise, especially those who staunchly believe that everything on the Internet is free and should always be free, delivered to them on a silver platter.

Yes, some websites are over-the-top-annoying with the sheer volume of ads being displayed on their pages, but other sites like this one have hardly any ads at all, which (as a result) barely makes us enough money for us to break even each month. Yet, if you use ad blockers to block ads on all sites, we are the ones that lose in the end.

As for ad blocker companies that accept payments 'under the table' (so to speak) in order to allow certain advertisements to sneak through on certain sites - that is nothing short of extortion, and again, I completely agree with Facebook's stand on the issue.

adines_7589's picture

I have a rather mixed feeling regarding adds. Ads located on a page that can be ignored or seen as one would choose - no problem. Pop-up ad that cover what I'm trying to read - that's a big problem. I've had to write-off a number of sights that would other wise have been quite useful. Of course I would rather see no ads, but I understand the economic facts. Some things one just has to live with.

matt_2058's picture

I see both sides and think Facebook shouldn't be the leading argument for ad-supported sites. Infopackets and countless others are better examples of a balanced product.

I have no problem with ads when they are placed well, like in a magazine or newspaper. But when a webpage is 50%+ ads...too much. Just as the ones that crash a browser by hammering it endlessly. I don't exactly know what their page is trying to do, but my browser slows and stutters or crashes. I don't visit a few good news sites for those reasons.

Completely fair for blockers to let chosen(paid) ads pass through. That's their business model...more power to them. Like all free things, it's free. Pay if you expect more.

"According to Bosworth, that's a sign ad-blocker makers don't always have the user's best interests at heart."

And Facebook does? Is that why Facebook capitalizes on collected user data, and only got a slimey version of morals and ethics once they were exposed?

"Speaking to the Journal, he outright said Facebook users should be seeing ads: "Facebook is ad-supported. Ads are a part of the Facebook experience; they're not a tack on."

The ads are part of the business, but 'experience'?I didn't realize Facebook was now an 'experience'. I guess I'm missing out on this one. Shuttle launches were an 'experience', as any liquid-fueled rocket launch is.

LouisianaJoe's picture

Ads that use flash or some other form of video cause unneeded delays in page loads. These are a big part of the reason that ad blockers were created.

David's picture

The more 'relevant' an advertiser wants to make an ad, the more invasive their profiling - and the less I want to see the ad!

adams.dave_7594's picture

This leaves a new niche for some tech company. We now need the ad blocker to block the block of the blocker.

steve1's picture

I stated more than a year ago that the abusive websites and advertisers have only themselves to blame for the popularity of ad blockers.

I whitelist those who moderate their ad placaments, such as infopackets.com and smithsonian.com, but there are some sites that seem to be 90% ad and somewhere in there is the content I wanted to see.

It's going to be a never-ending game between technological foes and the ad blockers are already engineering their ad blocker blocker blocker.

I am amazed that most of the advertisers think that I would ever buy their product in the first place.

stooobeee's picture

I use them, and unapologetically. Many people who use ads are unconcerned whether they are irrelevant in both number and quality. This is what competition is all about---people coming up with innovative ideas on how they sell their products besides indiscriminately using bandwidth that users pay for. If I need printer ink, I do a search for printer ink. There I will have pages and pages of ads selling ink.

As far as ad blocking companies paying underneath the table, they are eventually discovered. No one likes a cheat, and they will not be in business indefinitely. There is a balance between humble and greedy advertising. Greed seems to be one of the most despicable motives that is behind the creation of ads, and consumers are tired of it---hence a reason for ad blockers. Balance and relevance is key.

ronbh's picture

I do not like ads and do use ad blockers. If I like a sight then I will whitelist it as I do with this site. However I block most of everything. Click bait comes to mind, yes I know it is bait but sometimes I just want to see what the photographer caught etc. These sights only serve to generate revenue and are like junk food of the internet and if they get no money from my ads then I will not feel any remorse.
I think a better option would be a subscription as long as it was a reasonable price. I subscribe to a couple of different websites that I fee provide useful or entertaining content and I have not problem paying for it as long as my personal information is not distributed.
on the other hand I have found websites that even if you subscribe will basically still sell your info to anybody - Wired magazine comes to mind.
They block ads and I was going to subscribe until I read the privacy terms
For facebook if people like it so much then they will pay or they should have an option of paying but not having information shared.
I had a quick look and saw the fro 2015 facebook took in 17.6 Billion and had about 1.5 Billion users works out to about $11 per user. Let users opt out of advertising for $20 per year.

norascats's picture

There are sites I subscribe to that advertise local businesses, tag sales or events. I like those pages and subscribe to them.
Anything that takes too much bandwidth, shouts, or uses flashing signs, I don't want to see.
I hate pop ups that do not relate directly to a business application which I am trying to complete.
I hate anything I cannot scroll past.
I hate anything that pushes into text I am trying to read.
Maybe, if Facebook would establish reasonable terms of service on their advertisers, less people would feel the need to block ads.

kitekrazy's picture

Most of them are software related and from vendors I subscribe to. Once in a while I get a better deal from my FB page than the emails.
It's a free service and for that free service there's always a catch. Nothing is free.