Adblock Plus Claims It Already Beat Facebook's Ad-Blocking Force Field

Finds a Quick Fix, but It Might Not Last Long

By Published on .

Credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Adblock Plus said on Thursday that its community had already found a workaround to the anti-ad-blocking tech that Facebook announced just Tuesday, though Facebook countered that the fix erases more than just ads.

This was just an early counter-strike in what is likely to be a drawn-out contest between Facebook engineers and the pesky ad-blocking community. The fix that Adblock Plus disseminated also might prove to be lacking, because it could trap content that's not even ads, filtering out publishers and other organic posts, users might otherwise want to see.

Adblock Plus warned its users of that possibility: "You should be aware that this filter has not been heavily tested," the company wrote in its blog post, adding that if people find the software blocking more than it should to let them know.

Early tests showed the Adblock Plus software was working smoothly.

The anti-ad company issued the update to its software on Thursday that it says circumvents Facebook's newly released ad-block remedy. Facebook said earlier this week that it developed a new way to load its site on desktop so that ad-blockers couldn't distinguish between ads and regular content, rendering them useless.

"We promised that the open source community would have a solution very soon, and, frankly, they've beaten even our own expectations," Adblock Plus said in a blog post on Thursday. The fact that Adblock Plus is open source means that anyone can contribute to the software and present updates.

Facebook has said that any attempts to override its anti-ad-blocker would force pages to load slowly, deterring people from wanting to use them.

On Thursday it said the Adblock Plus remedy appeared to obscure far more than paid ads. "We're 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," a spokesman said in a statement. "This isn't a good experience for people and we plan to address the issue. 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."

Even still, communities across the internet began collaborating on ways to beat the social network as soon as Facebook said it had ad-blocking dead to rights. Internet forums on sites like Reddit lit up with conversations about how to circumvent the social network's ad-blocking force field.

Adblock Plus is perhaps the most widely known software that filters all types of ads from websites. It allows certain types of ads it deems "acceptable" through its net, though it charges large companies for the privilege of participating in that program.

Facebook's Andrew Bosworth, VP-ads and business platform, called that arrangement a "moral hazard" in an interview earlier this week.

Till Faida, CEO of Eyeo, the company behind Adblock Plus, had said it was just a matter of time before it found a way to defeat the new measure.

Ad-blocking and its proponents are in a never-ending arms race with publishers to outsmart their advertising.

Ad-blocking has become a severe threat to digital publishers, as 26% of internet users employ such software, limiting the potential for ad revenue.

The company acknowledged that this first fix was likely just the beginning of its effort to beat Facebook at the ad-block game, because the social network would just issue another patch.

"Facebook might 're-circumvent' at any time," Adblock Plus wrote. "As we wrote in the previous post, 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."

Most Popular