This past Tuesday, Facebook made headlines when they announced changes to the platform code that will nullify ad blocking software in order to show more ads in the News Feed, and on Thursday, Adblock Plus contributors struck back at Facebook and released a workaround to what they describe is a correction to Facebook’s “dark path against user choice.”
Facebook struck back at Adblock Plus with a new code, and now Adblock Plus’s latest workaround is dead in the water again. Facebook’s complaint with ad blockers and with Adblock Plus's workaround is that it also blocks content from friends and Pages as well, and they released the following statement to clear the waters on the issue:
We’re disappointed that ad blocking companies are punishing people on Facebook as these new attempts don’t just block ads but also posts from friends and Pages. This isn’t a good experience for people and we plan to address the issue. Ad blockers are a blunt instrument, which is why we’ve instead focused on building tools like ad preferences to put control in people’s hands.
Although Facebook newest code squashed Adblock Plus’s latest workaround, the war is still afoot. Adblock Plus knew that Facebook would respond swiftly, and they released the following statement addressed to the ad-blocking community:
Facebook might “re-circumvent” at any time. As we wrote in the previous post, this sort of back-and-forth battle between the open source ad-blocking community and circumventers has been going on since ad blocking was invented; so it’s very possible that Facebook will write some code that will render the filter useless — at any time. If that happens, the ad-blocking community will likely find another workaround, then Facebook might circumvent again, etc.
Adblock Plus is at a slight disadvantage because it requires users to update their software in order to receive the newest and full benefits of the Adblock Plus software. In their latest workaround, Adblock Plus required users to manually edit their filter list which might just be an added barrier to entry for most people.
On the other hand, Facebook has a slight advantage because they can update their code with a single push of a button. In their latest update, Facebook blended HTML of their most lucrative ads into the content they serve so ads will appear even if someone is using an ad blocker.
Those who advocate for ad blockers argue that ads are pesky, bothersome, unhelpful, and take up bandwidth, and on the other hand, those against ad blockers argue that it deprives websites and publishers from the ad revenue that they need to keep operations going.
Meanwhile, the war between Facebook and Adblock Plus still wages on, and a victor is yet to be determined, or where this will all lead to.