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.

Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
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: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

    £40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

    Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst / Trainee Application Support Analyst - Essex

    £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before