Finally … (adblocking)

I’ll out myself as iPhone 5s user now. I bought it with a German vendor who specializes in used and refurbished devices, not just from Apple.

The latest update to iOS brings two features I really like: accommodates ad-blockers and low power mode. Alas, both come with a caveat.

The low power mode can unfortunately only be activated by starting the Settings.app, going to Battery and then turning on the Low Power Mode. Such a functionality would gain a lot by being made available in the Control Center1. Let’s hope for the next update to have that feature.

The problems with current available ad-blocking apps is a little more difficult to explain. For starters there is a war going on to smuggle ads onto your device anyway. So buyer beware. Just like Adblock Plus, once an addon for Firefox that I would have recommended, went rogue, so did Ghostery. Alas, I could find only four ad-blocking apps. Crystal, my initial pick, advertises to run on iPhone 5s, but initiating the download says otherwise – it refuses to install and the purchase gets canceled. Peace uses Ghostery and therefore may well implement the infamous GhostRank feature.

Some others haven’t greeted the availability of ad-blocking in iOS with enthusiasm, not to say they predict the apocalypse of the web:

Welcome to hell: Apple vs. Google vs. Facebook and the slow death of the web

… which I call utter bullshit. What the fuck?

For starters there are still plenty of us who don’t put up adverts on our sites, don’t make money … sometimes actually pay money for hosting and so on.

But on the other hand if advertising and the methods behind advertising weren’t the essence of the worst of capitalistic thinking, perhaps there would not be such a thing as adblockers?! It doesn’t take malvertising attacks for your computer and your privacy to be at risk.

Ads slow down your browsing experience, true. That may even be of concern when you’re on a mobile data plan. But my biggest beef with advertisers is that the majority of them try to violate my privacy.

Malvertising on the other hand is but a result of the shady practices advertisers have long adopted. It’s still bad, no doubt. But to put it with the words of Nilay Patel, the author of that apocalyptic end of the web story about titanic battles over hegemony in Silicon Valley:

Your attention is a valuable product.

So it is! But instead of nicely and considerately asking to get my attention, advertisers will attempt to shove up as much matching ads up my optical nerve into my brains as they can possibly get.

Let me offer an alternative view: if advertisers would be more considerate, perhaps the methods would differ so much that schemes like malvertising would have never arisen.

To sum it up. Ads and advertisers continuously …:

  • endanger our computing devices
  • endanger our data
  • violate our privacy

And as a side-note: I hate them as much in the real world as in the virtual realms of the Internet! What gives them the right to litter public venues with visual garbage? As a matter of fact something is very wrong in this society. Advertisers should have to pay us, the public, to be allowed in the first place to litter their garbage all over the place. But just like any entrepreneur is allowed to exploit natural resources for financial gain, our environment is of course also fair game when it comes to ads. Well, not if you use adblockers. They are a way to fight back …

I recommend uBlock Origin and uMatrix by the same author as a defensive shield for your browser and your privacy. Oh, and dear readers please stop using Google for searches. Go with DuckDuckGo, Startpage.com, MetaGer or one of the other few left alternatives.

// Oliver

PS: dear Nilay Patel, would you please stop telling the fairy tale of “ad-financed independent media”?!

It is going to be a bloodbath of independent media.

You see, media that receives money from advertising can never be truly independent. And I’d say even in the classical revenue model of paid newpapers we can clearly say that those aren’t truly independent either2. So let’s stop the doublethink and call them what they are: dependent media.
PPS: and excuse me for not using huge blaring orangey red headings distracting from the precious content of my articles.
PPPS: the author of the withdrawn iOS 9 adblocker about ethics of adblocking.

  1. the menu you pull up from the bottom of the screen []
  2. in fact their loyalties will often still be more with the paying advertisers than with the paying readers []
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