Adblock is software that blocks ads. Most commonly, it’s a browser add-on. However, there is some debate on the use and ethics of adblocking software. While it is extremely convenient, some people argue that blocking ads is wrong because the website may not get paid for showing you ads.
What is adblock?
Adblocking software comes in multiple forms. Most examples, including ones for Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Android phones, modify a file (called the HOSTS file) on your computer to tell your browser (or phone) not to connect to advertisement servers. This stops your browser from accessing and displaying advertisements. The rest of the website is unaffected, because ads are almost always loaded separately from the content you want.
Why would I use adblock?
The most obvious benefit to using adblock is that you won’t see ads. However, because the ads aren’t loaded in the first place, you can load websites much faster and save electricity. Further, many viruses are distributed primarily through advertisements, so you’re protecting yourself from infection by using adblock.
PC Mag has an interesting article about the prevalence of advertisements that spread viruses, which illustrates the safety benefit of blocking ads. SecTheory has an article about decreasing power consumption by blocking ads and scripts that shows another, less obvious benefit to adblocking.
Why would anyone not use adblock?
Adblocking software that prevents ads from downloading also prevents websites from making money off of showing you ads, because that money is based on how many people download the ads. Generally, the ad revenue “lost” is a cent or two maximum per ad, but some websites maintain that many people using adblock significantly hurts their business.
As Info World reports in an article, few select websites take such offence at users of adblock that they ban them (or anyone who might be close) from viewing content. Some people, like Russ Jones of the blog The Google Cache (no affiliation with Google) even argue that adblocking is immoral.
How can I get adblock?
I personally use AdBlock Edge for Mozilla Firefox, which is an easy download from Mozilla’s add-on site. There’s also the original AdBlock Plus for Firefox, which is more or less the same thing, except Plus allows some ads by default.
For reference, AdAway is an adblocker available for Android, but it requires you to root your phone, which is a more advanced task than this blog can cover.
Do I need anything else to block ads?
Yes. You will need to add a list of advertising content to your adblocker of choice to successfully block ads. These are available with a single click on the Fanboy Adblock Homepage, which hosts several useful lists that you can add. I recommend at least adding EasyList from the top menu.
What do you think? Are you for adblocking, against it, or somewhere in between?
Tip of today: Dust your computer regularly or be a repairman's horror story.