Adblock plus has become very popular in recent years. The company reports that over 100 million desktop users have it to block unwanted ads every month. Others use it on mobile devices to keep them secure from malware infected Facebook ads.
While this has significantly improved the user experience, AdBlock has also damaged revenues of Facebook and other major publishers. Facebook has started fighting back. They developed new code to bypass AdBlock and force users to view their ads. Two days after Facebook implemented these changes, Adblock improved their algorithms and introduced a new workaround. Facebook users can continue blocking unwanted ads.
Facebook initially reported the changes as a "win" for users. They said that they wanted to give users better control over the ads they see, in addition to ending AdBlock. The offer was meant to be a compromise for people that installed AdBlock to avoid pesky ads, but didn't appear to soothe many people.
Here's an excerpt from the Facebook News Room:
"When they're relevant and well-made, ads can be useful, helping us find new products and services and introducing us to new experiences — like an ad that shows you your favorite band is coming to town or an amazing airline deal to a tropical vacation. But because ads don't always work this way, many people have started avoiding certain websites or apps, or using ad blocking software, to stop seeing bad ads. These have been the best options to date.
We've designed our ad formats, ad performance and controls to address the underlying reasons people have turned to ad blocking software. When we asked people about why they used ad blocking software, the primary reason we heard was to stop annoying, disruptive ads. As we offer people more powerful controls, we'll also begin showing ads on Facebook desktop for people who currently use ad blocking software."
They are aware many people have accidentally downloaded ransomware and other malware tools after clicking online ads. They insist they have taken the appropriate precautions.
AdBlock heavily criticized Facebook for taking agency away from its users. "So if that's true, Facebook apparently agrees that users have a good reason for using ad-blocking software ... but yet those users shouldn't be given the power to decide what they want to block themselves?"
Facebook has also been criticized by other parties for being intrusive and less than transparent about their intentions. They pretended that they were primarily concerned with the user experience, while they are really more worried about protecting their revenues.
Facebook has responded with some accusations of its own. It claims that ad blocking software often hides posts from friends, which hurts the experience for Facebook users. Gizmodo implied this is a weak argument, because there are plenty of other applications that also filter Facebook content. Gizmodo pointed out that Facebook never expressed an issue with other tools such Blue Feed and Red Feed, which weakens its criticisms of AdBlock.
Facebook and AdBlock haven't indicated that they intend to call a truce anytime soon. However, the social media giant may soon need to come to terms with the need to taper back on their ads, because many users clearly don't want to see them. Advertisers may also object to attempts to disable AdBlock, because they may end up paying for ads to be seen by people that will never respond to them.