Skip to content
Naked Security Naked Security

Facebook starts bypassing adblockers

Facebook wants you to choose which ads you see, provided the answer isn't "none".

The next battle in the conflict between advertisers and those that detest their intrusion has begun – Facebook has started bypassing adblockers on its desktop site.

Instead of allowing adblockers, the social media giant is encouraging users – both desktop and mobile – to choose which types of ads they see. In a blog post on this and other ad control changes, Facebook’s VP of ads, Andrew Bosworth (or Boz as he prefers to be known) explains:

If you don’t want to see ads about a certain interest like travel or cats, you can remove the interest from your ad preferences.

Users have also been given the ability to opt-out of customer lists belonging to organisations they aren’t interested in, or simply don’t want to see ads from.

Facebook’s economic model

Companies like Facebook, which depend on online advertising revenue, have long felt that adblockers pose a threat to their business and have employed a variety of tactics to deal with them, ranging from the technological to the hyperbolical.

In August 2015, anti-adblocker company PageFair teamed up with Adobe to claim that adblockers would cost advertisers the outlandish amount of $22 billion (yes, billion). Meanwhile ad technology company Oriel took the moral high ground and warned that adblocking was “potentially censoring web content like a man in the middle attack”.

Some sites have taken to blocking access to users with adblockers, others are asking users to choose between seeing ads or paying for content and some are simply trying to outfox and outflank the adblockers.

Facebook is hoping that by giving you more control over the ads you see, you won’t mind that it’s also joined the ranks of the latter group:

We’ve designed our ad formats, ad performance and controls to address the underlying reasons people have turned to ad blocking software. When we asked people about why they used ad blocking software, the primary reason we heard was to stop annoying, disruptive ads. As we offer people more powerful controls, we’ll also begin showing ads on Facebook desktop for people who currently use ad blocking software.

Of course the new options for controlling ads will also give Facebook more information about users’ likes and dislikes – information that it can share with the marketers who are critical to its business model.

Adblock Plus, believes that business model will suffer rather than thrive though:

It’s hard to imagine Facebook or the brands that are being advertised on its site getting any sort of value for their ad dollar here: publishers (like Facebook) alienate their audience and advertisers (the brands) allow their cherished brand name to be shoved down people’s throats. Yikes.

All about the user

Facebook also used its announcement to take a sideswipe at adblocking companies that can be paid to let ads through their barricade:

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..

Boz is already facing a backlash from users. You only have to look at his Facebook page to see how people are reacting and how he is responding. In one exchange he reveals:

I don’t think it is reasonable to use a free service and not participate in the economics that power it, whether it be Facebook or journalism or whatever.

If you get an ad that is bad, report it! We provide tools just for that. Our ads are native to the feed, the [sic] don’t interfere with other content, and you have an ability to tell is [sic] what you would like to see more or less of. That’s as good a deal as you can get for a free service today!

Only time will tell if the millions of Facebook users, who previously turned to adblockers, accept Facebook’s changes or simply close their accounts when they find their adblockers can’t cope.


I may be in the minority here, but I feel much less need to block ads on facebook compared with other sites.

Firstly, facebook generate and serve their ads internally, they don’t use external ad networks, so the problem of malvertising is far smaller that it would be for most other sites around the internet.

Secondly, facebook long ago blurred the line between advertising and content to the point of near invisibility. Many of my friends and relations are members of political parties or pressure groups, and will frequently repost political images or slogans because the political organisation said so. Other for profit companies will frequently run completions where you have to “like” the company or their product to enter. Either way, I consider those posts to be adverts, even though they are technically user generated content.


Why don’t facebook start a separate service where people gets paid to see ads and encourage people to sign up and share a fraction with them. Those who don’t want to see the ads and get on and people with nothing better to do can watch the ads and make some dough. Else soon FB will find their user base halved with other alternates being chosen to anti-socially network.


It will take some time to get things narrowed down to only those that do not bug me, but I have found it effective to start blocking the pages for the ‘suggested posts’. That stops my feed from being cluttered with so many things about which I could not care less.


If you use Facebook Ads, and you have to make a lot of income to do so… What about last minute purchase ads. I run a small business that repairs PC’s and some small IT services. If I were wanting that customer that uses their phone for Facebook to see my add when they need the repair of a PC or Laptop, but opted out of that ad type. What lets them see my ad when needed?……..


I stopped watching broadcast/cable TV at home over 15 years ago due to commercials wasting my time (and poor content), I now watch streaming shows if Addblocker works there, or download the content.
If adds get to much on FB I’ll just walk away from it too. It’s pretty simple really.


This. There’s so little content of any worth on Facebook – and so much endlessly-circulating garbage. I find myself not even looking at it for days or weeks at a time already.


I found keeping in touch with long distance and local friends I don’t see often is quite nice on FB. That’s what I use it for.


What we tend to forget is that FB users are already paying, with their personal data. FB has become too large and can unilaterally set the rules. Get used to it that there is only one choice: to be or not to be on FB


I hate videos that I don’t want to watch choking my feed and slowing things to a crawl. Those videos are always from ads. I stop visiting sites that grind to a halt because the unwanted video commercial is stalled from the ad-server, and facebook will be no different if it comes to that.


Web User Dude wrote “I hate videos that I don’t want to watch choking my feed and slowing things to a crawl. Those videos are always from ads.”

This one is really easy. Google Chrome has a built-in click-to-play feature that works for all plug-ins, including Flash. To enable it, click Chrome’s menu button and select Settings to open the Settings page. Click Show advanced settings, click Content settings under Privacy, scroll down to Plug-ins, and select “Let me choose when to run plugin content.”

All the video ads you don’t want to see will appear as a simple, low-resource, static puzzle piece.

The downside is two extra clicks to load every video or PDF. When you see the puzzle piece on something you want to see, right click anywhere in the frame and select “Run plug-in.”

Unfortunately this great scheme–I’ve used it for a few years–may be destined to die next month. Google (who also benefits from forcing ads on you) deprecates Flash in Chrome next month and accepts only HTML 5. That’s not a plug-in and won’t be stopped with the above technique.


I guess I fail to see the reason anyone even uses facebook. I used it form 2005-2012. I have not missed it once since i quit. Sure some family members get mad and dont talk to me cus i didnt share 380 photos of my new puppy pooping on my floor but really its a waste of time and is a huge security risk. Yes its a security risk… just like linkedin.


Mark is a billionaire and he doesn’t really need the ads,really.


Xia wrote “Mark is a billionaire and he doesn’t really need the ads,really.”

How did you determine that?

Mark made his billions by selling ads. He certainly didn’t make it by charging for Facebook subscriptions. If his ads were eliminated, he would have no income at all.


Xia wrote “Mark is a billionaire and he doesn’t really need the ads,really.”

Obviously, you’ve just completed Bernie-nomics 101.


I checked Boz’s Facebook page. his quote “I don’t think it is reasonable to use a free service and not participate in the economics that power it, whether it be Facebook or journalism or whatever.” came to mind as I looked over the pristine waterfalls and rock faces he was climbing and photographing. 20 years from now they will likely have billboards (holograms?) advertising next to them. Boz will lament the loss of beauty due to he intrusive ads. Parks Services will say “… it was economically required.”


Let’s be fair – you’re likely paying the park already. Facebook likely isn’t receiving any cash from you.



“If you don’t want to see ads about a certain interest like travel or cats, you can remove the interest from your ad preferences.”

It’s just another way for Facebook and its affiliates to mine data and make predictions on its lab rat community under the guise of giving you control.


I suspect that the same people who are happy looking at cat videos and use Facebook to pass the hours in which they don’t have anything else to do are perfectly happy looking at adverts anyway, so Boz and co are probably doing the right thing for the majority of users.

For the rest of us, just offer a subscription based service that serves no adverts.


Surely charging advertisers for impressions that are not delivered (for whatever reason) is fraud. 22 beelions of it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to get the latest updates in your inbox.
Which categories are you interested in?
You’re now subscribed!