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Adblockers Technology Facebook

AdBlock Plus has already found a way for users to block Facebook ads again, but the social giant laments 'blunt' approach


By Rebecca Stewart, Trends Editor

August 11, 2016 | 5 min read

Earlier this week Facebook declared war on ad blockers, prompting an angry response from one of the biggest ad blocking tools on the market, AdBlock Plus, which now claims it has a 'workaround'. But Facebook has hit back, claiming the 'workaround' 'punishes users', as it blocks both user generated, and commercial content.


Adblock Plus has revealed how to block Facebook ads on desktop / FACEBOOK ADBLOCK PLUS AD BLOCKING

Commenting on Facebook's decision to overpower ad blocking tools on the desktop version of its news feed for the first time, the ad blocking firm said the social network was "anti-user," urging it to quit playing decade-old "cat-and-mouse games."

Although just two days on, AdBlock Plus has boldly published a second blog on the matter, which offers up a workaround to Facebook's anti-ad blocker technology.

"Two days ago we broke it to you that Facebook had taken 'the dark path,' and decided to start forcing ad-blocking users to see ads on its desktop site," wrote Ben Williams, communications manager at the firm’s parent company Eyeo.

"We promised that the open source community would have a solution very soon, and, frankly, they’ve beaten even our own expectations," he added.

The "solution" requires Facebook users who also have Adblock Plus to manually add a new 'filter' to EasyList, a popular Adblock Plus extension that is endorsed by the program.

This update will strip ads from Facebook for these users, with Adblock plus saying that it will be rolled out to all customers using the filter list in "a day or so."

Facebook's decision to circumvent ad blockers has been controversial among users, but the company's vice president of ads and business Andrew Bosworth told the Wall Street Journal that the social giant was taking a stance "more for the principle of the thing" rather than a revenue issue.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau has reacted favorably, while MediaCom's head of digital investment Amy Lawrence said it was significant that Facebook had attempted to find "a middle ground" by giving users greater control over the ads they do see.

However, Facebook took the opportunity to take issue with AdBlock Plus' recent update, issuing a statement in the aftermath of the development, claiming that it would address the issue.

It read: "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."

While Facebook's new rules aren't breaking any laws, Jon Walters, partner at Charles Russell Speechlys law firm in London, said that the principle of showing ads against users' wishes sits "somewhat uneasily with the notion that we are free to determine the extent to which we are directly targeted by advertising."

"Facebook will argue that adverts on its general news feed are not direct marketing and therefore fall outside the laws and regulations prohibiting direct approaches where an individual does not consent to them," he added.

"But it seems to be that targeted adverts on your news feed are quite intrusive and differ from general background advertising on other websites or indeed TV or billboard adverts."

Russell further explained his point of view that there could be grounds for the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) to look at what Facebook is proposing, given that "it is so obviously going against user wishes".

He concluded: "That all said, I suspect that there will be no action. The common sense view is probably that if you wish to use Facebook, then accepting advertising targeted at you is the price you pay. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it."

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