Over the past couple of months, the practice of ad blocking has received heightened ethical scrutiny.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “ad blocking” refers to ad remover software, usually web browser plug-ins that stop most ads from appearing when you use websites or apps that would otherwise show them.

Arguments against ad blocking tend to focus on the potential economic harms. Because advertising is the dominant business model of the internet.

In fact, defenders of ad blocking tend to counter with arguments that ads are often “annoying,” and that blocking them is a way to force advertising to get better. Besides, they say, users who block ads wouldn’t have bought the advertisers’ products anyway. Many users also object to having data about their browsing and other behavioral habits tracked by advertising companies. Some also choose to block ads in hopes of speeding up page load times or reducing their overall data usage.

And the defense from these people is the plain truth.

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It makes browsing safer. Attackers are now buying up advertising space on some of the world’s most popular websites and loading them with malicious ads that can do major harm to your computer and your data. The fastest and easiest way to nip this in the bud is to block online ads from showing up at all.

An ad blocker will help you remove many online ads and reduce the opportunity for malvertising attacks. But ad blockers don’t block all ads – in fact, many companies pay good money to ad blocking developers in order to have their ads “whitelisted” (Adblock Plus, we’re looking at you). So you should take a few complementary steps to make sure you’re truly protected.


It stops ad servers from tracking you. Ad servers don’t just deliver ads to your browser – they also like to keep an eye on what you do online and gather all sorts of personal information about you and your habits that can then be sold to third parties, or used to send you even more targeted advertising. Ad blockers claim to stop ad servers from being able to track you.


It makes your pages load faster. When your ad blocker stops the analytics code, text, and imagery that comes with every online ad, your browser is free to concentrate on loading the actual content of the site you want to visit – say, the article you want to read or the video you want to stream – without distractions.


It makes your data plan last longer (and saves you money). This is particularly true for those who like their mobile browsing experience ad-free. Some tests have shown that, while visiting news sites, more than half of your mobile data is chewed up by ads! Although results vary wildly from site to site, once you take online ads out of the equation, there is just a lot less data to download – which can be good news for your pocket if you are on a lean data plan.


It can majorly declutter your browsing experience. The obvious main benefit of using an ad blocker is, well, no ads. You get cleaner websites, no annoying pop-ups, and no sudden and unwelcome sound effects… Replacing all the ads with pleasant, reader-friendly white space can make the time you spend online feel like a radically different experience.

If everything surrounding ad blockers sounds wonderful at this point, it’s because they are generally helpful, decent tools to have. It pays off to install one, is what we’re saying. But like everything else in life, ad blockers have a not-so-fresh side you should be aware of.

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