Photo via Christopher/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)
If you have an ad blocker installed on your browser, you're in for an unfamiliar sight the next time you login to Facebook. The social network is bypassing ad blockers to display advertisements to visitors on the site.
The change was announced on Tuesday in a blog post by Andrew Bosworth, the vice president of Facebook's ads and business platform. In it, he detailed changes to the ad experience on Facebook, including the company's new plan to circumvent ad blocking software.
"We’ve designed our ad formats, ad performance and controls to address the underlying reasons people have turned to ad blocking software," Bosworth wrote, though it's unclear just how reassuring that will be to ad block users.
The change will hit desktop users, who will now begin to see content targeted to sell them things while browsing the world's most popular social network.
A Facebook spokesperson explained to the Daily Dot that Facebook will accomplish this by making advertisements indistinguishable from other types of content that appears on the platform (though if you've been on Facebook for any extended period of time, you might wonder if that's not already the case).
Most ad blockers look for identifying features to identify an ad, but will no longer be able to find those indicators on Facebook.
Facebook aims to make the experience more tolerable by giving users additional controls over the types of advertisements they will see via their ad preferences menu in account settings. The tools available allow users to manage the content of ads displayed and adjust how Facebook and apps on the platform are able to track and use personal information.
Bosworth noted Facebook has now expanded these abilities, now allowing for users to block ads relating to certain interests. Users will also be able to stop ads from businesses or organizations who have already added them to their customer lists.
While those features might make advertisements more tolerable, it still means there will be ads where there once were not, while browsing on desktop.
Adblock Plus, the most popular ad blocker available, told the Daily Dot in a statement via a spokesperson that Facebook's decision is "an unfortunate move, because it takes a dark path against user choice."
However, the company noted ad-blocking has long been a game of cat-and-mouse between users and advertisers, dating back to spammers attempting to work around spam filters.
The statement from Adblock Plus concluded:
"If we agree that users are in power then forcing ads on users who have chosen to block them shows we haven’t really learned that much. Because after all, isn’t it the user who should decide what is intrusive and what isn’t? In fact, forcing ads on users who have chosen not to see those ads doesn't provide any value to anyone: publishers alienate their audience and advertisers allow their brand to be represented in a very forceful, negative light.
"Instead of wasting our time on cat-and-mouse games and other short-term solutions, let's find out how we can address users that have opted out of traditional ads in a respectful way."
According to a 2015 report from Adobe and advertising startup PageFair, nearly 200 million people worldwide use ad blockers during their web browsing, including about 45 million in the United States. The report projected that ad blockers would cost companies $22 billion of lost advertising revenue over the course of the year.
In a poll conducted earlier this year, IAB/YouGov found that 54 percent of ad block users would consider turning them off if that was the only way to access content.