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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
people
News
20. Larry Page: Net worth: $23 billion; Country: U.S; Source of wealth: Google
business
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
A collection of 30 Banksy prints at Bonhams auction house in London
art
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

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - London - £43,000

    £35000 - £43000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior IT Support Analyst...

    Ashdown Group: Senior Network Engineer - London - £70,000

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An excellent opportunity ...

    Ashdown Group: Senior Systems Administrator - London - £50,000

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Systems Administra...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst- (Customer Support) - £29,000

    £29000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst- (Customer Suppor...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness