Armen is seriously remorseful about the whole thing (which unfurled in the brief window since Apple started allowing ad blockers in its App Store), going so far as to ask Apple to refund money to people who had downloaded Peace. The problem, he said, is that Peace, like most ad blockers, takes an all-or-nothing approach to blocking ads. It blocks the reasonable ones as well as the obnoxious ones.
He’s absolutely right. There are far too many obnoxious, privacy-invading ads and ad technologies on the Internet. They should be blocked. But well-behaved ads shouldn’t. They support the Web.
New York Times technology writer Farhad Manjoo argues that ad blockers are a good thing — they’ll force the ad industry to clean up its act, and then we’ll be left with only good ads. Perhaps in the very long run that might be true. But in the interim, there will be a tremendous amount of collateral damage to the Web because of massive ad losses. Bigger sites will survive. Smaller ones, operating close to the margins, won’t.
I’ve found my own answer to the conundrum. For the past month, I’ve been using Ghostery, which lets you turn off individual ad networks, beacons and similar technologies on a one-by-one basis. I’ve turned off those I consider the worst privacy invaders and allowed the rest through. Armen recommends doing the same thing.
I’ve also noticed that as of Version 2.0, the popular Adblock Plus does something similar — it lets users choose to allow what Adblock Plus considers acceptable ads, while blocking the rest.
So maybe things are better than they seem. If even ad blockers recognize the damage that blocking all ads can cause, the Adpocalypse might never be upon us.
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