Author: James Bruce
Published: March 4, 2012
AdBlock, NoScript & Ghostery – The Trifecta Of Evil
Here's an interesting article which I thought would stir up a good debate between some of the website owners around here. Yes I do use all 3 of these
"evil" browser add-ons, and personally I don't agree with one single part of this article, so let me explain why.
For those of you who don’t know, AdBlock silently removes all advertising and social buttons. The thing is – those ads pay my salary, as well as
the other full time editors, professionals writers, and dedicated server costs that make MakeUseOf what it is. We believe strongly in a free content
model – whereby we provide free, high quality, full content to you with no restrictions – in exchange for showing you advertising.
I see it
like this: once the server at MakeUsOf transmits the HTML code to my browser, I can do what ever I want to that code. If I want to modify that code so
it is displayed differently in my web browser, who are you to tell me I can't do that? Now, I can also use automated programs to modify the HTML code
too, like the AdBlock add-on. At the end of the day I don't want to click any of your damn adverts anyway, so you can simply get over it if I choose
not to see them by altering the code once it has been sent to me. You think that if you can just get the chance to make me look at them I'm going to
change my mind and click some of them don't you? Wrong... and even if that's true for some people, it doesn't change the fact that the end user
shouldn't have to be harassed by websites who have the audacity to issue orders concerning what they can and cannot do concerning the way their web
browser displays the HTML code.
What makes me angry about the AdBlock plugin is that the author – while happy to destroy our revenue stream – is also profiteering from the
very same free content model by asking for PayPal donations when the plugin is installed. Talk about hypocrisy.
Actually MakeUseOf could easily
ask for donations and they probably do already. So that argument is completely invalid. If people actually think your content is worth something they
will donate to you, and many businesses have experienced success with a simple donation business model in the past. It could also be argued ad
blockers are similar to a donation tool... if your content sucks and your website is plastered with eye straining adverts I'm going to block them. On
the other hand if you have great content and a reasonable amount of ads I may decide to unblock ads on your website and even click on them to help you
keep creating more great content. But if you try and force me to look at your ads I am just going to leave and never look at any of your ads.
Ultimately you need to remember that if everyone cheated the system like AdBlock users do, the Internet would only exist behind
False. The internet would thrive on user-generated content, more than it already does. Even ATS relies on peer generated content... now
the admin here may claim the servers don't pay for themselves and therefore advertising is needed, but the fact is ATS has a lot more advertising than
it really needs to pay for the costs of hosting this website. This website profits off the content we submit, which would be fine, if there was no
rule forcing us to disable Ad Blockers on this website (there is such a rule). And lets just say everyone started using an AdBlocker which forced all
websites to put their content behind 'paywalls'. What we would see then is an explosion of user-generated content hosted on peer-to-peer networks
which don't cost anyone a dime. Furthermore, it's not like advertising is the only way to make money. As already noted, there is donations, online
shops which sell physical merchandise, and clever promotional campaigns such as those used by Facebook in order to maintain a nice clean looking
website without the unpleasant jumble of adverts suffocating the pages.
and annoying tricks and popups).
Incorrect. A large number of viruses and trojans are
up to 2 billion Euro stolen from 60+ Banks
report released by McAfee
revealed that the victims were first
as privacy, because a security breach could dismantle your privacy in a matter of minutes once an attacker gains access to your system. I simply
cannot trust the large range of 3rd party tracking companies and advertising companies to only transmit safe scripts to my browser, because there have
been numerous cases even on ATS where people have reported an external source trying to compromise their browser security, such as this
extremely worrying report by Trillium
So when you use NoScript, you’re breaking the Internet. Not only do you drag webpages 10 years into the past, but you prevent essential modern
page components from loading
external 3rd party source; for instance, MakeUseOf loads content from nearly 15 different domains, including Twitter, Facebook and Google, and also a
sources usually does nothing to hinder the "modern page components" of the website I am browsing, what it does is stop me from being tracked, stop me
from seeing adverts injected into my page from external sources, and stop my browser from being possibly compromised by external sources which I would
otherwise be completely oblivious to were it not for add-ons which allow me to see what is happening behind the scenes.
And lastly we have Ghostery, the "ultimate do-not-track plugin". As the article explains, this add-on will tell you exactly what companies, ad
networks, and tracking services are being downloaded from a site, and allow you to selectively disable/enable them. It works much in the same way as
NoScript but it's highly effective at stopping all forms of trackers, including image trackers and other forms of tricky bugs which NoScript doesn't
block (NoScript only stops scripts remember).
So how much can these companies actually “track” your web usage? Well for one, they certainly aren’t able to see what you’re doing in
other tabs, other windows, or general Internet searching. They only keep a record of sites in their network which you’ve browsed to. If company X
puts a cookie on the New York Times and MSNBC site, and you browse to both those and Wikipedia, it only knows about the two upon on which it was
placed. In other words, they can’t tell that your other tab is open on Asian Hotties or cheatonmywife.com.
Incorrect yet again. They may not be
able to share cookies, but they don't need to, because that's not how they track you, they track your IP and browser user-agent string among other
things, meaning they can track your activity on any website which contains their trackers, and furthermore they often share or sell that information
to other companies for a profit. In fact there is a brilliant Firefox add-on called
which shows, in real time, how that tracker data creates a spider-web
of interaction between companies and other trackers. However, it should be noted that Collusion obviously wont show you anything if you have "The
Trifecta Of Evil" installed, since those 3 add-ons stop you from being tracked in the first place.
edit on 13/7/2012 by ChaoticOrder because:
(no reason given)