Facebook Goes to War With Ad Blockers

Illustration for article titled Facebook Goes to War With Ad Blockers

Facebook announced today that people will see ads on the desktop version of the social network regardless of whether or not they are using ad blockers.


The company also said it is rolling out increased controls for advertising, because who doesn’t love customizing their online advertising experience. In a post announcing the change, Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s Vice President of Ads and Business, paints a bizarre and convoluted view of how real people actually view advertising.

“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,” Bosworth wrote, probably doing his best to conceal a massive grin. “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.”

The only universe in which advertisements are “useful” or “introduce us to new experiences” exists solely at Facebook headquarters. Unlike Bosworth, normal Facebook users aren’t deluded by the millions of dollars they receive as a result of advertising revenues, and generally find ads to be annoying and intrusive.

It seems like Facebook has figured out a way to serve your ads even if you have an ad blocker installed. This may mean Facebook has a new way of serving the ads so that ad blockers can’t detect them. I’d guess this has the potential to turn into a blocking arms race, as the developer of ad blockers figure out how to get past Facebook’s new method for serving ads.

Facebook also seems worried about the inevitable backlash from forcing Facebook users to see the onslaught of intrusive and annoying Facebook ads, as it’s carefully crafted this press release to focus on giving “more control” over the ads users see, and not the fact that Facebook will force users to see ads on the platform.

Bosworth is right that online ads are a necessary evil that support the free things we love. This here gadget blog Gizmodo.com is funded by advertising. But at the same time, users should be able to control the connections that their computers make, and Facebook shouldn’t force us to connect to its ad server to use its product.


Online advertisements stalk you online as you move from website to website, and are used to serve malware or redirect users to phishing websites with regularity. Right now, online advertisements suck, and you are justified in blocking them. Take it from someone like me, a stupid dumb blogger, who pays his rent with money made from online advertising.



Staff Writer, Gizmodo | Send me tips: william.turton@gizmodo.com



For all those marketers who are reading these comments looking for some actual human responses, here’s my take:
I don’t mind ads all that much unless they interfere with my web browsing. If they move the content down/up while I’m reading, lay on top of the content, or are downright blindingly bright or seizure inducing... I’m going to reach for my ad-blocker. This is a pretty predictive reaction. Why does it seem like ad agencies are not taking it into consideration? (Don’t answer that, I know the answer.)