Facebook set off a firestorm in the ad blocking community earlier this week when it announced that it would introduce new code for its ads that would make them impervious to software blockers. To accomplish this, the social media giant altered the HTML code for its ads to make them indistinguishable from other content on the site.
Facebook at the time acknowledged that some ads can be annoying, but that it was doing its best to present ads that are relevant to its users. It also fought back against what it feels is bribery in the ad blocking business. “Rather than paying ad blocking companies to unblock the ads we show — as some of these companies have invited us to do in the past — we’re putting control in people’s hands with our updated ad preferences and our other advertising controls,” wrote Facebook’s Andrew Bosworth earlier this week in a blog posting.
Facebook fired the first shot, but now Adblock Plus has launched a return salvo. “We promised that the open source community would have a solution very soon, and, frankly, they’ve beaten even our own expectations,” wrote Adblock Plus’ Ben Williams yesterday. “Facebook might ‘re-circumvent’ at any time. 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.”
Not surprisingly, Facebook responded quickly when it was discovered that its efforts to block the blockers had already been foiled. But in a statement to TechCrunch, the company went on to say that these updated ad blocking filters are going way too far when it comes to stripping out content:
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. 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.
Facebook has already reportedly rolled out the new code update to nullify these latest Adblock Plus filters, and it won’t be long before the blocking community counters. “The ad-blocking community will likely find another workaround, then Facebook might circumvent again, etc.” Williams continues. “But for this round of the cat-and-mouse contest, looks like the mouse won.”
We’ll see about that…