October 4th, 2015
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s why the implied-contract theory is invalid: people aren’t agreeing to write a blank check and give up reasonable expectations of privacy by clicking a link. They can’t even know what the cost of visiting a page will be until they’ve already visited it and paid the price.
And it’s all getting so much worse, so quickly.
I’ve never been tempted to run ad-blocking software before — I make most of my living from ads, as do many of my friends and colleagues, and I’ve always wanted to support the free media I consume. But in the last few years, possibly due to the dominance of low-quality ad networks and the increased share of mobile browsing (which is far less lucrative for ads, and more sensitive to ad intrusiveness, than PC browsing), web ad quality and tolerability have plummeted, and annoyance, abuse, misdirection, and tracking have skyrocketed.
Publishers don’t have an easy job trying to stay in business today, but that simply doesn’t justify the rampant abuse, privacy invasion, sleaziness, and creepiness that many of them are forcing upon their readers, regardless of whether the publishers feel they had much choice in the matter.
Modern web ads and trackers are far over the line for many people today, and they’ve finally crossed the line for me, too. Just as when pop-ups crossed the line fifteen years ago, technical countermeasures are warranted.
Web publishers and advertisers cannot be trusted with the amount of access that today’s browsers give them by default, and people are not obligated to permit their web browsers to load all resources or execute all code that they’re given.
I recently started using Ghostery on my computers, and a simple homemade iOS content blocker that I may release for iOS 9’s launch. The web performance improvements with these are staggering, and the reports of quite how much Ghostery is blocking on most pages is shocking and disgusting.
Web publishers had things pretty nice for a while. Monetization was usually as simple as dropping a script tag from an ad service into your template. Want to add stats and analytics? Just drop in another script tag from another service. The bizdev people made a deal to integrate another analytics service for another few pennies? Go ahead, drop in yet another script tag.