Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The ethics of ad blocking

A while ago someone persuaded me to switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox, a decision which I haven't regretted, although I do wonder how some people get so crazy evangelistic about a program that essentially does exactly the same thing in a slightly better way.

Anyway, one of the biggest draws is the ability to add on add-ons to enhance your browsing experience. Last week I installed Adblock Plus, a nifty piece of programming that stops pretty much all adverts from appearing on websites you visit. So instead of this...

you get this...

which is much better. But there's an ethical question here. The income that supports websites and keeps them in existence comes from the advertising space that they sell off. Companies pay good money so that net surfers see their ads. So if all web users installed Adblock Plus then the companies would stop advertising and the websites would go bust.

So if I want to use a website, should I just expect to see adverts as a kind of payment for the service I'm receiving? Not that anyone's going to make much money from advertising dating for the elderley to a married 22-year-old anyway.

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