Get ready for your Facebook experience to become even more cluttered — uh, relevant, I mean relevant. According to Facebook, starting today the social media giant will disrupt ad blockers across its platform — rendering them useless and your browser full of vitamin ads.
"We’ve designed our ad formats, ad performance and controls to address the underlying reasons people have turned to ad blocking software," a company statement reads. "When we asked people about why they used ad blocking software, the primary reason we heard was to stop annoying, disruptive ads. As we offer people more powerful controls, we’ll also begin showing ads on Facebook desktop for people who currently use ad blocking software."
The New York Times notes that this move only impacts desktop browsers, but with more and more people accessing the site via smart phones it wouldn't be surprising if it was soon extended to mobile ad blockers as well. However, if you access Facebook on your phone via a Facebook app (as opposed to via a browser), there never was and likely never will be a way to block the ads served to you.
In an age when online advertisements can slow page loading times and are often annoying, the paper reports that usage of ad blockers has skyrocketed — roughly 200 million people use some form of the usually free software. But, as many users have recently discovered, the problem presented by online advertising is more fundamental than one of convenience or aesthetics. The Next Web reported in March that ransomware, the malware that encrypts your files and demands you pay bitcoin to hackers overseas in order to gain access to it, was discovered on ads served by The New York Times, the BBC, the NFL, AOL, MSN, and others.
Not to worry, Facebook VP of Ads & Business Platform Andrew Bosworth assures us, Facebook's ads won't be like that at all. "With today’s announcement, we’re building on these efforts by making ad preferences easier to use, so you can stop seeing certain types of ads," he explains. "If you don’t want to see ads about a certain interest like travel or cats, you can remove the interest from your ad preferences."
Interestingly, this manual user adjusting of ad preferences will give the company more data on said users, thus allowing it to serve Facebookers more highly targeted (and more profitable) ads. It's a win-win for the social media company.
Whether its users, who, after all, are not paying for the service, agree remains to be seen.