The back-and-forth between Facebook and ad-blocking software companies has become almost farcical at this point: After Facebook said it would block the use of ad blockers, the leading ad-blocking company announced that it will block the use of Facebook's ad-blocker blocker. And now Facebook says it is rolling out a fix that will disable the ad-blocker's blocker blocking. As humorous as this cat-and-mouse battle may seem, there is a serious principle at stake for Facebook. If it can't reliably ensure that users are seeing its advertising, then the 1 billion it currently makes on desktop ads is potentially in jeopardy, and questions might also be raised about its ability to display ads on mobile too, which is a 5-billion business. That's why the giant social network rolled out its ad-blocker force field earlier this week, with a blog post that spent a lot of time on the controls that Facebook gives to users that allows them to choose which ads they want to see, and very little time on the technicalities of blocking ad-blockers.
More specifically, the use of ad-blocking browsers -- the most common way for smartphone users to block ads -- soared by 90 percent from January 2015 to January 2016. By March of this year, 408 million people were using ad-blocking browsers. Mobile ad-blocking is much more popular in emerging markets, the report finds -- as many as 36 percent of smartphone users in the Asia-Pacific region. The report identified 45 different ad-blocking browsers for iOS and Android, though the Alibaba-owned UC Browser has more users than all others combined. Apple started supporting content blocking in iOS in September of last year, but no more than 2 percent of U.S. iPhone users are using a content-blocking app, the report says.
The Atlantic has a new message for online readers using an ad blocker: disable it, pay up or leave. The politics and culture magazine is rolling out a new advertising-free digital subscription option for 3.99 a month or 39.99 a year. Those who try to read the Atlantic with ad-blocking software enabled will be prompted to either "whitelist" the site, meaning that ads can filter through, or sign up for the ad-free model. "Digital advertising is the single biggest source of our revenue," said Kim Lau, senior vice president of digital and head of business development at the Atlantic. "It's obviously a concern to us if there's a segment – and potentially a growing segment of the population – that doesn't understand that value exchange."
More than a dozen major U.S. newspaper publishers have sent a cease-and-desist letter to the creator of a new Web browser that features built-in ad-blocking software, calling it "blatantly illegal." The letter said the plan by Brave Software Inc. to speed page loading times by stripping away ads the papers had sold and replacing them with ones sold by Brave was "indistinguishable from a plan to steal our content to publish on your own website." The letter was addressed to Brave founder Brendan Eich, the former chief technology officer and briefly chief executive of Mozilla, who launched the new browser earlier this year. It was signed by legal representatives for 17 newspaper groups, which collectively publish about 1,200 daily newspapers, including Gannett Co. GCI -1.68 %, the New York Times and Dow Jones, owner of The Wall Street Journal. "We stand ready to enforce all legal rights to protect our trademarks and copyrighted content and to prevent you from deceiving consumers and unlawfully appropriating our work in the service of your business," the publishers wrote in the letter.
Samsung got off to a rocky start with ad-blocking for its Android browser. It initially launched it for devices on Marshmallow (Android 6.0), but Google quickly pulled the required partner app, Adblocker Plus. The search giant subsequently changed its mind, meaning there's now a variety of ad-blockers you can use with Samsung's browser. For Secret mode, Samsung took privacy beyond what's offered by other browsers. It stores saved pages and bookmarks with the same encryption tech it uses for Knox and gives you the option to access it with fingerprint authentication.