One of the intrinsic realities that we’ve had to reckon with in the current state of the internet is advertising. Ad blocker programs are more popular than ever, as a result, and we’re going to introduce you to the best choices for 2017 — as well as inform you as to their safety and legality. So many of the services that we depend on every day are free, and the entire reason that these massive entities can remain free for use is advertising. It’s a complicated labyrinth to navigate, but we’re going to do our best to help you do so, below.
Whether you just want to find an ad blocker, or if you’re interested in the ethics and repercussions of ad blocking, this article is going to feature information that you’ll want to have. For interesting links, accurate recommendations, and important discussions, keep reading!
When you scroll through your Facebook feed, you’re inevitably confronted with advertisements. Many of them will seem familiar — tangentially related to items that you’ve viewed when shopping online, or other sites that you’ve visited. Other sites entirely will be recommended to you, based on your browsing history. And when you watch videos on YouTube, you’re going to be confronted with ad videos in between all of the content that you want to view.
Heck, every single free service that serves millions of people — and there are quite a few of them now — features advertising integration in some form or another. Many of us have simply become accustomed to it; we glance past the ads without giving them a second thought, because they’ve become such a normal presence. Others are continually frustrated with how often ads seem to disrupt the activities that they actually want to partake in online. You’re not even safe on your smartphone, any longer. Apps feature just as many ads as the browser on your PC.
There’s a reason that we’re seeing so much advertising. It isn’t simply a cash grab on part of those who are designing and airing the ads. It is, however, entirely about money, in ways that many online users might take for granted.
Built on Ad Revenue
We love free things and always have. That isn’t going to change. But as the saying goes, nothing is ever truly free, and that is incredibly true for the most popular online platforms that millions of people are using every day. YouTube. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Even the news and hobby websites that you frequently visit. They might be free for you, but hosting, maintaining, and improving these massive services costs a lot of money.
And it’s not all about those services, either. Even Digital Recourse is only able to offer up content freely due to the ads that we host. They’re plain as day, always visible, and thanks to Google’s ad revenue system, they’re often relevant to readers. But nothing will ever change the fact that most online ads are something that users didn’t ask for, and that makes them feel endlessly intrusive.
Without subsidized ad revenue, however, none of this would be free. You’d be paying a monthly subscription for Facebook and Twitter. Instagram might cost you a pretty penny to download. That list could go on and on, and it would stretch through the entirety of the internet as we know it. That’s how important ad revenue is for the platforms that we love.
Using an Ad Blocker
However, this will always be a double-edged sword. Those who argue in favor of the massive prevalence of ad revenue are countered with the fact that some ads are downright aggressive. They take over your screen, get in your face, and entirely disrupt your online activity. Moreover, cookies and other cached data gather up our browsing information and make it available for those with the money to buy it. That information is then used to target ads more specifically to various users.
It’s endless, and ad blockers are the only viable solution for thousands of people who aren’t happy with that status quo.
Are Ad Blockers Legal?
Currently, there’s nothing illegal about using an ad blocker. We always have the right to restrict what content is shown in our web browsers because we ultimately have control over the software that we’re using on our computers. That could always change, someday — monetization rarely works in the favor of the larger public. But for now, you’re not going to get in trouble for using one.
The larger question isn’t actually about the legality of ad blockers, so much as the repercussions for using them. As we illustrated above, the vast majority of free services that we enjoy remain free due to advertisements. And though it might seem like your own use of such a thing would be invisible, it isn’t. The more people that use ad blockers, the less revenue that companies see, after paying for those ad placements. And when they see less revenue, they’re less willing to pay for online advertising, in specific areas.
Which means that it’s harder and harder to keep those services that we enjoy free. It’s a frustrating situation since there are plenty of strong arguments on both sides of this coin.
Best Ad Blocker for 2017
We’re going to assume that you’re set on using an ad blocker. Our purpose isn’t to sway you to one side of that argument or another, as much as to provide you with all of the relevant information. And part of that relevant information is showing you which of these tools is getting the best feedback from users.
- AdBlock Plus is among the highest-rated ad blocking options and has remained such for several years now.
- It has frequently-updated extensions available for Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and other popular browsers.
- It’s lightweight, doesn’t come with an abundance of bloatware, and manages to give users a surprising amount of flexibility with regard to how they utilize it.
This accessibility and flexibility mostly come from the fact that it’s an open-source application. Instead of being developed and distributed by a particular company, it’s been built by dedicated programmers committed to providing a free ad blocker that works. And it will block almost everything, apart from a few select advertisements.
And it’s those few select advertisements that tend to give people pause. Because while AdBlock Plus blocks most ads, there are some that it deems “safe” and allows through its filters — regardless of individual users settings. The argument for this is that ad platforms are critical to sustaining online service models as we know and enjoy them; thus, acceptable, non-intrusive advertising should be allowed and encouraged. It’s not a bad path to take, honestly, and the reasoning is spot on.
But some users who want to block more advertisements than AdBlock Plus allows still opt for other choices, of which there are several.
Though it has a similar name, AdBlock is actually an entirely different application. We don’t see it ranking quite as highly as AdBlock Plus, but if you’ve ever found yourself frustrated with our primary selection in this article, it’s a pretty fantastic runner up. It has much of the same functionality, but packaged right along with that is the allowance for ads that the application deems safe.
NoScript and ScriptSafe are ad blocking options for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, respectively. They might be two of the deepest ad blockers available on these two platforms, but that depth is a tradeoff for less stability and accuracy. AdBlock Plus remains a far more reliable option, overall.
There are several others available online, too. The truth is, as long as online advertisements are viewed as something of a nuisance, we’re going to have ad blockers designed by people who want to combat that particular trend. And because they’re talented professionals, we can’t rail against that practice too much! However, there’s a potentially large disruption on the horizon for online communities and users of all sorts. Because when the tide turns too sharply against advertising, the companies responsible for offering freely available content online are going to feel the pinch. And when they feel the pinch, those who ultimately end up paying for it (at least in terms of expenses) are the people that want to use those services.
As we’ve said above, the current situation in online advertising is tricky. There are some ads that are entirely unintrusive, and even a few that manage to convey useful information that customers might want, at the end of the day. However, there are also plenty of pop-ups and embedded ads that behave outright obnoxiously, and it’s these types of ads that most people download ad blockers to combat.
Currently, ad blockers are both safe and legal. the recommendations that we’ve made above will point you towards some of the best ad blockers that you can find thus far in 2017. They’re tried and tested, and the best of them gives “approved” advertisements a chance to sneak through the app’s robust filters. All that we will encourage our readers to do is stay safe online, and be mindful of the possible repercussions of using ad blockers!