That Was Fast: Ad-Blocker Announces Block For Facebook’s Ad-Blocker Blocking

Image courtesy of Facebook

You use Facebook as a place to post and store photos, dumb memes, and articles about the political foofaraw du jour. Facebook uses Facebook as a way to gather direct profiles for billions of souls that can be advertised to, and as a way to make money selling those ads. There’s a natural tension there, when Facebook wants you to be the product and you would rather not. These days, that tension is evolving into something like an advertising cold war.

Back in the long, long ago of literally just this Tuesday, Facebook announced some “enhancements” to its ad-serving process that would, in theory, increase the value and relevance of ads you are shown on the site.

Facebook thinks its revamped targeting control is so great, in fact, that it pushed some code that basically made it so most desktop ad-blockers wouldn’t work on those fantastically relevant and highly desired ads you obviously want to see.

The folks over at open-source ad-blocker Adblock Plus, though, think you might not want to see those ads. At all. Even (or perhaps especially) if they’re really well-targeted to you. It’s unsurprising, then, that they would have been working on a workaround to Facebook’s ad-blocking workaround. What is surprising is that it barely took them two days.

In a blog post today, Adblock Plus shared with users a piece of code that its users can add to their filter lists in order to filter out the new and improved Facebook ads.

Adblock, however, cautions its users that this solution will not last forever. “Facebook might ‘re-circumvent’ at any time,” they remind users.

“This sort of back-and-forth battle between the open source ad-blocking community and circumventers has been going on since ad blocking was invented; so it’s very possible that Facebook will write some code that will render the filter useless — at any time. If that happens, the ad-blocking community will likely find another workaround, then Facebook might circumvent again, etc.”

Facebook, of course, is unhappy about this, and does plan to circumvent once again as soon as it is able. A spokesperson for the company reached out to Consumerist with a statement, saying the company is “disappointed” that “ad blocking companies are punishing people on Facebook, as these new attempts don’t just block ads but also posts from friends and Pages.”

“This isn’t a good experience for people and we plan to address the issue,” Facbebook finished. “Ad blockers are a blunt instrument, which is why we’ve instead focused on building tools like ad preferences to put control in people’s hands.”

It is possible, though not guaranteed, that updating ad-blocker filter code could snag some legitimate posts in its net, as Adblock says in their own blog post. (“This filter has not been heavily tested,” they warn users, “so if you think it’s blocking more/less than it should let us know.”) However, it is also highly likely that being advertised at constantly is also not a good experience for people.

And so goes the modern arms race, in which nobody ever quite wins.

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