By Joshua Christensen
It’s a story many can relate to. A shopper was looking for a new binder on Amazon, but eventually they couldn’t make a decision and started browsing Sparknotes for the answer to their English homework. When lo and behold, those binders appear on the side. Using an ad blocker disables those disgruntling advertisements and removes them from the page. Ad blockers also keep companies like Amazon and Google from tracking users as they surf across the web. Using an ad blocker is almost a requirement for anyone wishing to keep their life online private.
Tracking isn’t the only reason to use ad blocker. They can save data and make websites load faster. It does this by recognizing that a certain part of a page wants to talk to an advertisement server then prevents that ad from connecting to the internet. Since the ad never gets to ask for the ad, that information is never sent over the internet, which reduces the time it takes to load the webpage.
Ad blockers vary in shape, size, and complexity. Many ad blockers, such as Ad Block Ultimate, are installed via browser extensions, but some browsers are starting to remove ad blockers. Others are more complicated such as this micro-computer set up as a custom DNS server to remove ads on every computer connected to the home wifi. There also many Safari-based ad blocking add-ons for those wanting to live ad-free on mobile.
Some may argue that blocking ads hurts publishers, and they’re right. However, AdNauseam is looking to change that and raise the biggest issue behind advertising on the internet: Governments and others ask, force, and hack advertising companies to gain personal information. AdNauseam’s main purpose is to hide its users’ tracks by clicking on every single ad that appears. Talk about a needle in a haystack. Each of those clicks generates money for the site, and the user doesn’t have to see the ads. That money has to come from the big advertising giants like Google. AdNauseam hopes that enough users of AdNauseam will force an advertising revolution that protects users and the right to keep personal data private.
The future for ad blocking is not looking so bright. AdNauseam was banned and forcibly removed from the Chrome web store, and China has actually made ad-blocking illegal. Taking away the ability to choose doesn’t just hurt advertising, but the ideals and vision of an open, free internet. Ad Blockers are a way to improve browsing experience and push back against big data.