Technology & Science

Facebook disabling ad blockers, adding more ad controls for users

Soon, ad-blocking software won't be enough to stop you from seeing ads on Facebook, the company says.

Ad-blocking software firm calls the move 'anti-user'

Facebook will begin showing ads on the desktop version of the site even to people who use ad-blocking software, its VP of ads and business platform, Andrew Bosworth, announced in a blog post today. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

Soon, ad-blocking software won't be enough to stop you from seeing ads on Facebook, the company says.

Facebook will begin showing ads on the desktop version of the site even to people who use ad-blocking software, its VP of ads and business platform, Andrew Bosworth, announced in a blog post today.

This is an unfortunate move because it takes a dark path against user choice.- Ben Williams, Adblock Plus

He added that Facebook is a free service and "ads support our mission of giving people the power to share and making the world more open and connected."

Ad blocking is estimated to have cost publishers $22 billion in lost advertising revenues last year, and some argue that the proliferation of ad blocking could "kill the internet."

Bosworth suggested that Facebook users no longer need to use ad blockers anyway because "we've designed our ad formats, ad performance and controls to address the underlying reasons people have turned to ad-blocking software ... to stop annoying, disruptive ads."

The company announced it is making some changes to user ad controls so that:

  • You can choose not to see ads about certain interests "like travel or cats" by removing them from your ad preferences in your user settings.
  • Users will soon be able to stop seeing ads from businesses and organizations that have added them to customer lists.

Facebook criticized some ad-blocking companies for accepting money from advertisers in exchange for "whitelisting" their ads, allowing them to be seen by users with ad blockers installed. Ad-blocking companies like Adblock Plus claim that money is needed to assure that the ads that are allowed are non-intrusive, as managing a whitelist "requires significant effort on our side."

"Rather than paying ad-blocking companies to unblock the ads we show — as some of these companies have invited us to do in the past — we're putting control in people's hands with our updated ad preferences and our other advertising controls," Bosworth wrote.

Cat-and-mouse game

The company that makes the popular Adblock Plus software called Facebook's move "anti-user."

"This is an unfortunate move because it takes a dark path against user choice," wrote Ben Williams, communications manager for Eyeo GMbh, in a blog post.

He suggested the move won't benefit Facebook or advertisers: "Publishers (like Facebook) alienate their audience, and advertisers (the brands) allow their cherished brand name to be shoved down people's throats. Yikes."

He also said there is "no reason to overreact" and implied that ad blockers will soon find a way around Facebook's new anti-ad-blocking technology.

"Cat-and-mouse games in tech have been around as long as spammers have tried to circumvent spam filters," he wrote.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.