Cyber culture: A new twist to the internet moral maze - ad blocking with added ads

 

A couple of months ago I experienced a moment of moral clarity that was vaguely comparable to Ebenezer Scrooge's redemption in Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

For years I'd been browsing the web with ad-blocking software installed, purging my internet experience of extraneous sales pitches or lurid enticements, and it was great. Web pages seemed to load faster, I wasn't distracted by animations urging me to contact single women in my area, and I only saw content that I wanted to see. But pangs of guilt forced me to disable the software.

Many of the websites I visit depend on advertising revenue to stay afloat, and by refusing to look at ads I was diddling them out of the possibility of making money out of me. I was guilty of double standards; I'd harangue people for daring to complain about audio adverts while listening to Spotify for free, while simultaneously banishing ads from my sight while web browsing. I had to resolve this, and I did it in favour of the content providers. Click.

But while I now smugly uphold myself as a beacon of morality, huge numbers of people still despise online advertising and are unable or unwilling to accept that it's necessary. AdBlock Plus software boasts 50 million users. These people hate being plagued by irrelevant ads, but if advertising is targeted more specifically at them they find that creepy and hate that, too. If websites dare to use software that blocks AdBlock users, we immediately hear howls of righteous protest: "Why should our internet experience be downgraded to uphold a failing business model?"

One person who believes that it's failing is Till Faida, CEO of AdBlock Plus, who was recently quoted as saying: "Everyone agrees that advertising on the internet is broken." It's certainly true that our tolerance of increasingly invasive ad techniques is being severely tested, but you could argue that Faida is partly responsible for this by offering millions of people a way out of ad viewing, thus causing companies to pursue everyone else with increasingly gaudy splash screens. But Faida has thought of a solution, and it's so fiendish that you can imagine him cackling like a cartoon baddie as he explains it.

He's come up with an "acceptable ads" initiative, which involves AdBlock charging companies a fee to let advertisements through its previously impregnable filter. AdBlock users will retain the right to turn off ads completely, but Faida reckons that 80 per cent of users have no objection to ads that aren't too obnoxious. It adds an astonishing twist to an already complex moral argument. Ad blocking is seen by many as theft, and the software that enables it as immoral; but the company behind the software plans to sell advertising space back to the companies whose ads it's blocking – companies who've already paid for the advertising space once!

But Faida's dastardly scheme might just work: 50 million people, after all, is a lot of eyeballs, and AdBlock is only going to become more popular. So if, in the future, you're running AdBlock Plus and you see a rogue advert, you can reassure yourself that it's been deemed to be unobnoxious by AdBlock, and the company who produced it are so desperate to reach you that they've actually paid twice.

Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

    £6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Infrastructure Engineer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is looking to find a...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Engineer

    £21000 - £23600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

    Day In a Page

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing