Block Online Ads Responsibly

Online ads have become increasingly pervasive and annoying over the years, so the effort to circumvent or block them entirely is no surprise. Some ads go as far as to completely obstruct content, and it can significantly slow down the responsiveness of the site as well. Some sites automatically start playing video and audio of ads or other content, which can interrupt something else you’re watching or listening to. It may seem like an obvious solution to install and run an ad blocker all the time, but this presents an ethical dilemma. After all, that site is free to use because of the ad dollars it generates, so not seeing those ads undercuts the ability for that site to make money.

There’s no absolute right or wrong answer here, and it really needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. That’s why it’s a good idea to install an ad blocker like UBlock Origin, which has the ability to create a white list that it won’t block ads on. (Make sure to get UBlock Origin, and notUBlock, as they are different.) Then if there’s a site you visit often and prefer, you can choose to see the ads. Conversely, sometimes ad blockers themselves can cause issues when displaying non-ad content, so you can white list a site for that reason as well.

Autoplaying video and audio is another annoying trend on the web lately, but often times it’s the site content and not ads. If you want to prevent that from happening, there are plugins in Chrome to accomplish this. If you’re a Safari user, click “Safari” in the menu bar, then click “Settings for This Website.” This will display a pop-up under the URL bar, and you’ll be able to choose between “Allowing All Auto-Play,” “Stop Media with Sound,” and “Never Auto-Play.”

Watch Leo Laporte discuss ad blocking on episode 1452 of The Tech Guy here.