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Facebook has figured out how to circumvent ad blockers

By Shawn Knight · 50 replies
Aug 9, 2016
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  1. Online advertising is a controversial yet necessary evil that both publishers and end-users must contend with. Ads provide the revenue that most websites and online services require to operate. Without money coming in, publications and service providers can’t pay their employees who, like you and I, are simply working a job to earn a living.

    Like many other things in life, online ads often get a bad reputation largely because of the bad ones. For example, video ads that auto-play with the volume enabled, those for products you have zero interest in, ads that slow down page load times or ads that otherwise take away from the experience have a negative effect on non-intrusive ads that display products or services that you might actually be interested in.

    As a result, lots of people have resorted to using ad blocking software that simply blocks all ads, period. Facebook is well aware of the issue which is why they’re trying to improve the quality of the ads they serve by giving users more control over the kinds of ads they do and don’t see.

    Andrew Bosworth, VP of the Ads & Business Platform at Facebook, explains that one of the ways they’re doing this by allowing users to adjust their ad preferences. For example, if you don’t want to see ads regarding something you aren’t interested in such as racing or travel, you can weed those out. Also, if a business or organization has added you to their customer list, you can elect to stop seeing ads from them.

    The most controversial change, however, has to do with ad blocking software.

    Bosworth says that as they offer people more control over the ads they see, they’ll begin showing ads to users that run ad blockers. Of course, Bosworth didn’t explain how exactly they are able to circumvent ad blockers but he did note that they aren’t simply paying ad blocking companies to be whitelisted (having their ads show through for a fee) as many do these days.

    According to The New York Times, Facebook is changing the signifiers that blockers use to detect if something is an ad or not. As such, ad content will be indistinguishable from non-advertising content, the publication says.

    Again, it’s a controversial decision but one that Facebook – which generates most of its revenue from ads – feels is worth the risk. How effective it’ll be remains to be seen as one would suspect that ad blocking companies will eventually figure out cost-effective techniques to detect Facebook's modified ads and adjust their products accordingly.

    That said, what are your thoughts on the matter? Is Facebook justified in trying to protect its revenue stream or are they going too far? Do you use an ad blocker? If so, what suggestions would you give to sites that use ads to pay their employees and provide you content? Would you rather pay a small monthly fee in exchange for an ad-free experience like Hulu offers its customers?

    Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

    Image courtesy JaysonPhotography, Shutterstock

    Permalink to story.

  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,355   +4,992

    I quit using Facebook for many years. I even stated I wouldn't go back. Eventually I was persuaded to log in again by a gaming guild I was participating in. The first time I am annoyed by an ad I will stop logging in again. I don't browse the Internet to be annoyed by some *******s ad. Paying each other to display ads, gets nothing accomplished. Learn to make a living without annoying people, and quit whining when people choose not to see your ****.
    rpjkw11 and Fimbulvetr like this.
  3. Setnom

    Setnom TS Member

    Bought "No Man's Sky" on PC too, I see. :p
  4. Setnom

    Setnom TS Member

    Ooops, mistakes were made here. Nevermind.
  5. lripplinger

    lripplinger TS Addict Posts: 284   +99

    I don't use any "social media" so I don't care.
  6. Greg S

    Greg S TS Evangelist Posts: 1,607   +443

    I don't use Facebook so I really don't care. Adblockers will catch up really fast.
    ziffel66 and rpjkw11 like this.
  7. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,286

    FB can do what the hell they want, I'm never gonna see those ads even if I don't use an ad blocker. I wouldn't use FB even if they paid me (Well... that depends on how much, and it had better have lots of zero's after the 1st digit/s). I'd rather look at annoying, intrusive, irrelevant, data wasting ads, almost anything's better than FB.
  8. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 674   +485

    Adguard is your lightweight but powerful friend. I'm confident they will catch up and continue to block ALL ads.
  9. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Evangelist Posts: 871   +393

    how do propose a company to make money while giving you the service for free? get real.
    hahahanoobs likes this.
  10. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Evangelist Posts: 871   +393

    A mod must have deleted the first comment... will repost it again and see if someone deletes it again...

    Deleted statement: Their platform.. their rules. Don't like it? Don't use it. Simple.
    FF222 likes this.
  11. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,355   +4,992

    By using methods that doesn't equate to the same principles behind Cable company's package deals. That **** pays for way more than actually wanted much less needed. Sites that are needed even wanted will find a way to survive without ads. Ohh and by the way I am real. You are the one that needs to get real, if you think Ads are anything but trash that clutter the consumer's browsing experience. I don't need ads to tell me what I want or need, life itself will do that for me. When I browse I browse for those needs and wants, the ads only get in the way. See it is life itself that dictate which sites stay alive, not some BS ad.
    Fimbulvetr likes this.
  12. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 607   +1,222

    Half of these anti-ad-blocking schemes are scripts designed to detect which files haven't been loaded after a certain time delay, and then call up a "You're running an ad-blocker" frame. Ironically there are now anti-anti-ad-blockers designed to block such ad-block detection scripts from running. And on it goes... Likewise, "changing the signifiers that blockers use to detect if something is an ad or not" probably just means they're calling the ad images files something a little less obvious than adserver/ads/garbageadvert.jpg

    As for Facebook, I've never actually used it. I have however, had to put up with Facebook trackers and stupid frames filled with strangers faces I'm supposed to "befriend" for no reason inserted into 3rd party websites despite not agreeing to that anywhere...

    They're certainly justified, but it's like TV - they stuff more and more ads in and those commercial breaks creep up from 10m to over 22m per hour, then people start recording everything and skipping the ads. Then people get used to doing it by default and despite the "it isn't fair" complaints by the broadcasters, there's no going back. The only real solution is for advertisers to have better self-control & self-awareness in the first place, but that ship sailed decades ago...

    As for suggestions, the main one for me is "keep the content original, and the ads "non-hostile" (no animations, audio, flash, video, trackers, low-CPU usage (battery friendly), etc). As far as tech sites are concerned, if there's some interesting articles not available elsewhere, that reinforces the value of the website a hell of a lot more than endless copy / paste news headlines.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2016
  13. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,058   +1,186

    Article said "Like many other things in life, online ads often get a bad reputation largely because of the bad ones."

    When they stop "bad ones", I'll stop blocking.

    I tried AdBlock Plus, but still got some "bad ones".

    And I agree this is not the answer, but there is no good answer yet.

    So I have 3 white-listed sites.
    DAOWAce and Levi Sterling like this.
  14. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,540   +918

    "Do you use an ad blocker? If so, what suggestions would you give to sites that use ads to pay their employees and provide you content?"

    Your mistake is asking this after Facebook is mentioned in the article so that's all people are seeing.

    Yes, I use an adblocker on my PC and my smartphone.

    I've never bought anything from an ad, and if I was interested in a product I've seen in an ad, I would look online to find the best price.

    Hmmm... maybe if ads had some of the best deals on the web, then maybe I'd be more likely to click on them and make a purchase. Of course the product would have to be something I want or need at the time. Timing is very important.

    But yea, relevance, price and timing are probably the most important things to strive for to attract buyers. Also, placing ads in between paragraphs probably isn't the best place for them. When sites do that it makes me feel like a wallet on legs rather than a reader of the site they appear on. That and it's very distracting when trying to read something.
  15. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,463   +630


    They can send as many ads as they like I haven't bought anything from an Ad on the internet in 20+ years and never will.

    And I will continue to ad block to my own discretion, not when they tell me.

    And I'm well aware that they need it to pay bills or whatever but that isn't really my problem. When I start getting a cut of that revenue they are making from ads then I will consider giving a F***.

    These companies will sell our personal data for money without our permission where is my cut?
    EClyde likes this.
  16. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,831   +675

    I like FB. A great deal. Maybe all of you that don't are just too young. As for adds...screw them. If a site can't survive without the revenue I don't care. If 100,00 sites disappeared 100,000 others would appear. Seeing as how I only visit maybe 10 or 15 sites I am sure they could be replaced.
  17. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Evangelist Posts: 871   +393

    So each and every company should cater to YOUR desired business model? Why do you think they should? If you started a business, can others tell YOU how to run it?
  18. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Evangelist Posts: 871   +393

    So, if you owned Facebook, and had no revenue, would simply operate it for free even though it costs billions a year to run? How would you do this? Why would you do this?
  19. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,831   +675

    That's for people more attuned to the madison avenue way of thinking then me. If FB went away I would find something else to do. I once asked my Dad...What about Sally? He said she would find someone else. So I did and I am sure she did. I hope you understand but if you don't then I know who you support for President.
  20. FF222

    FF222 TS Addict Posts: 175   +107

    That's like saying "when they catch all killers, I'll stop shooting people coming at me (out of fear they might be killers)". Obviously, that's a stupid argument - and it's equally stupid when used to try justifying universal ad blocking on all site, because of the few bad apples.
  21. Neebsgaming

    Neebsgaming TS Member Posts: 18

    It's a back and forth with ads and and ad blockers always has been and it will continue that way with this we all know it will
  22. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Evangelist Posts: 871   +393

    But, if there was no money, there ALSO wouldn't be another Sally. I am always amazed at how your generation things everything should be free for you.
  23. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,355   +4,992

    I'm the one they want to conform, they are the ones pushing ads. They are the ones with a business model that apparently doesn't work, or they wouldn't be screaming about it. I don't care how they conform as long as they accept the fact I'm not going to view their ads if I have a choice.
  24. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Evangelist Posts: 871   +393

    No they don't. They offer a service. If you don't like the service, you are free not to use it.

    You are incorrect. It works well. They want to make sure it continues to work well.

    They have accepted the fact but have rejected giving you a billion dollar service for free. If you have a better way that people will love and flock to, whats stopping you from starting a "cliffbook"? Can you do this service for free? Or would you have to make money somehow? If not ads, how would you make money?
  25. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,936   +1,485

    And I found a way how to circumvent Facebook.
    TekGun, Phr3d, amstech and 1 other person like this.

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