Less than a week after Facebook began cracking down on clickbait, it announced a plan to bypass addons like AdBlock or Ghostery, which sniff out advertising using a variety of methods, including blocking ad server URLs and preventing Flash videos from playing automatically.
Facebook intends to circumvent all but the most determined ad blockers by making its advertisements indistinguishable from the status updates, photo uploads and other content that appears in your news feed.
The change goes live for all users today, the New York Times reported. To get around the new advertising formats, ad blockers would have to begin analyzing the content of the ads themselves, according to the Times. Doing so isn’t feasible using current ad blocking methods.
Facebook’s vice president of advertising, Andrew Bosworth, justified the change with a familiar refrain: Like many online news sites, the social network is free to users and relies on advertising revenue to keep it going. He criticized ad blockers, portraying them as deceptive and harmful to Facebook’s business model.
“Some ad blocking companies accept money in exchange for showing ads that they previously blocked — a practice that is at best confusing to people and that reduces the funding needed to support the journalism and other free services that we enjoy on the web,” Bosworth wrote in a blog entry. “Facebook is one of those free services, and ads support our mission of giving people the power to share and making the world more open and connected.”
As part of the new plan to block ad blockers, Facebook says it will give its users more control over which ads they see. Folks can now suppress marketing about a certain interest like travel or cats by removing the topic from their ad preferences.
If the plans to reduce clickbait and serve more relevant ads have the effect Facebook says they will, users should have a more pleasant social networking experience, free of annoying ads and news articles they aren’t interested in but feel compelled to click on anyway. The changes will likely also mean more revenue for Facebook, since its ads are now blocker-proof.