Tech News

Adblock Plus Fights Facebook Block, Twitter Blamed for Terrorism… [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 12-08-2016

Adblockers fight back against Facebook crackdown, Twitter isn’t responsible for ISIS, Spotify Gaming soundtracks your sessions, President Obama has his own Facebook chatbot, and the new Star Wars movie gets a new trailer.


The Facebook Ad-blocking War Begins

Just days after Facebook cracked down on adblockers Facebook Blocks Ad-Blockers, Google Kills Adobe Flash... [Tech News Digest] Facebook starts blocking the ad-blockers, Google starts blocking Flash in Chrome, Netflix launches its speed test on mobile, the Secret Service tweets about Donald Trump, and what happens when a squirrel steals a GoPro? Read More — informing everyone who uses an adblocker they’ll see ads on the social network regardless — AdBlock Plus has circumvented Facebook’s block. And so the inevitable game of cat and mouse, as both sides try to outdo each other, has begun in earnest.

According to Adblock Plus, anyone using a fully up-to-date version of its adblocker will once again be able to hide Facebook ads. However, Facebook claims that in its rush to keep blocking ads, Adblock Plus is also obscuring legitimate posts. A spokesperson said, “This isn’t a good experience for people and we plan to address the issue.”

It’s patently obvious how this is going to play out from here, with both sides trumping the other in a neverending battle to win the war. Adblock Plus is admitting as much, with the company’s Ben Williams saying:

“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; so it’s very possible that Facebook will write some code that will render the filter useless — at any time. If that happens, the ad-blocking community will likely find another workaround, then Facebook might circumvent again, etc.”

We are, and always will be, on the side of Facebook on this issue, because we, like most other websites on the planet, rely on ads to pay bills Are Ad Blocking Browser Extensions Killing The Internet? One of the reasons for the Internet’s surge in popularity is the cost of most online content – or rather, the lack of cost. That’s not to say the content is free, however. Almost every... Read More . Simply put, if adblockers succeed then your favorite websites will either have to start charging for content or they’ll disappear without a trace Why the Fight Back Against Ad-Blockers Should Matter to You Now Ad-blocking has changed our browsing experience. The fightback by web publishers is changing it further. But if they defeat ad-blocking, what does it mean for the future of our Internet experience? Read More .


Twitter Cleared Over ISIS Killings

A judge has decided that Twitter cannot and should not be held responsible for the killings of two U.S. contractors in Jordan. Defense contractors Lloyd “Carl” Fields Jr. and James Damon Creach were killed by an alleged ISIS supporter while training police recruits in Jordan in 2015.

The families of the two men sued Twitter claiming the company allowed “ISIS to use its social network as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds, and attracting new recruits.” U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick disagreed, granting Twitter’s request to dismiss the lawsuit [PDF link].

He said, “As horrific as these deaths were, under the [US Communications Decency Act] Twitter cannot be treated as a publisher or speaker of ISIS’s hateful rhetoric and is not liable under the facts alleged.” He also called attempts to connect Twitter to the killings, “tenuous at best”.


Spotify Recommends Music for Gaming

Spotify has rolled out another new feature designed to help it maintain its lead (in popularity and usefulness) over Apple Music 10 Essential Apple Music Tips You Really Need to Know Since its launch in 2015, Apple Music has come a long way, baby. Unfortunately, it's still not the easiest or most intuitive service to get to grips with. Which is where we come in... Read More . This one, rather obviously called Spotify Gaming, is a category housing all of your favorite video game soundtracks 25 Original Video Game Soundtracks You Can Listen To On Spotify For the price of an album per month you can subscribe to the music streaming service Spotify and listen to as much music as you can possibly stuff into your ears. You can even feel... Read More and the music you listen to while gaming.

Video game soundtracks tend to stick in the minds of gamers, who can spend hours playing a game and hearing the same music played over and over again. But not all games boast classic soundtracks, which is why it’s crucial to have a playlist ready to accompany the on-screen action.

Spotify Gaming covers both of these bases, with official soundtracks galore and curated playlists created to fit in with specific genres. The Gaming category will show up in Browse on desktop and the Android, iOS, and PlayStation apps. Or you can visit the Spotify Gaming website to create your own unique playlist.


President Obama Wants Your Messages

You can now message President Obama on Facebook [No Longer Available], with the White House opening up a new line of communication between the POTUS and the people. President Obama apparently reads 10 letters sent to him by American citizens every day, and he’ll now read 10 Facebook messages too.

Why? Well, it helps maintain the pretense that the U.S. Government is listening to the people. Which is only really true at election time 6 Resources to Help You Track the 2016 US Presidential Election The people’s right to vote determines the outcome of an election. Be an informed voter and take this important task seriously with the help of these tools. Read More . Still, if your message is one of the handful chosen every day, it would make for a good conversation starter at a party. And possibly a conversation closer too, depending on the political beliefs of those you’re conversing with.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer

And finally, we have the new trailer for the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. As you’re probably already aware by now, Rogue One isn’t a sequel to The Force Awakens. Instead it’s a spin-off showing how the plans for the Death Star came to be in the hands of the Rebel Alliance.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is therefore a prequel of sorts, with the events of this film leading up to Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Rogue One is due to be released on December 16, 2016, and if this trailer doesn’t tempt you into booking a ticket immediately then I’m not sure anything will.


Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Who will win the war between Facebook and Adblock Plus? Should Twitter be held responsible for what people say and do on its platform? What music do you listen to while gaming? What do you want to message to President Obama? What do you think of the trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story?

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.

Image Credit: Jasper M via Flickr

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  1. Anonymous
    August 14, 2016 at 1:59 am

    I like makeuseof and I'd rather pay a small fee to avoid the ads. maybe you can come up with a plan where people can pay to remove the ads. Some people would most definitely pay. I have on several sites already.

    • Dave Parrack
      August 14, 2016 at 11:17 am

      It has been discussed in the past, but it's tough to implement, and having a two-tier system is bound to annoy users who think they're being penalized somehow.

      Thank you for saying you'd pay to read MUO. That means a lot. Unfortunately, I think you're in a tiny minority, because most people seem to think content should be free. I do too, and I detest paywalls, but being on the other side means I know how crucial ad revenue is to a website. A lot of people just dismiss that out of hand.

  2. Anonymous
    August 13, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    "Simply put, if adblockers succeed then your favorite websites will either have to start charging for content or they’ll disappear without a trace."
    FUD! FUD! FUD!

    The only people forecasting the demise of the Internet because of adblockers, are the ad providers. The ad providers' right to display ads ends at MY modem.

    • Dave Parrack
      August 13, 2016 at 2:01 pm

      Please enlighten me as to how MakeUseOf would survive without ads and without charging for content? We don't spend hours writing articles for fun, you know. It's a job.

      • Anonymous
        August 13, 2016 at 3:24 pm

        "Please enlighten me as to how MakeUseOf would survive without ads and without charging for content?"
        There are literally millions of sites that are flourishing, not bothered by adblockers. To paraphrase Samuel Clemens "the reports of Internet's demise have been greatly exaggerated" For an answer to your question maybe you should look at the business plans of the sites that are flourishing.

        "We don't spend hours writing articles for fun, you know. It's a job."
        If you don't enjoy your job then why do it? Maybe you should switch to doing something you do enjoy?

        • Dave Parrack
          August 14, 2016 at 11:21 am

          MakeUseOf is flourishing. At no point did I suggest we weren't. I said "if adblockers succeed", which means they have persuaded everybody to use them. At that point every single site on the web would have to seek funding from another source or go bust. Which means voluntary donations or a paywall. Fact.

          When did I say I didn't enjoy my job? I LOVE my job. But it's still a job. If I wasn't getting paid for it it would cease to be a job and become a hobby instead.

  3. Anonymous
    August 12, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    If you use ads to pay for your website, then you're responsible for policing the advertising providers to prevent malvertising from hitting your readers' computers. Full stop.

    • Dave Parrack
      August 13, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      That's a fair point, and if a reader reports a dodgy ad and provides enough information we can act on it. But we cannot check every ad which appears on the site prior to it appearing on the site. That is literally impossible.

      • Anonymous
        August 13, 2016 at 2:52 pm

        It's literally possible. Start by only running text ads, which get higher click-through percentages anyway. Then build a low-end virtual machine running a small script designed to simulate click-throughs (for diagnostic purposes only) and report back when the VM's anti-malware app detects bad behavior.

        Heck, a small startup could even make a business out of generating know, like EasyList. (Full disclosure: I am not affiliated in any way with any such companies.)

        So it's not difficult. And if you don't, you lose your users, one way or another.

  4. TxBlackLabel
    August 12, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Sorry, but I pay for my internet and I choose NOT to see ads and it will always be that way with me if MakeofUse wants to convert subscription only, see ya! A few years ago tried the, you want to see our website you have to pay, their website had as many visitors as an 80's shopping mall today in Detroit and days later people were bypassing the subscription.

    So MakeUse of staff when you all get home today unplug your DVR's and watch TV from now as it airs, no recording and no skipping commercials, because those favorite shows you like watching have commercials that pay to be there. You can't hand pick what you want to hear or see, that's religion and a whole subject on its own. I am a pirate! And being a pirate is all right to be. And more importantly, I can do what I want because a pirate is free!

    • Dave Parrack
      August 13, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      We don't want to put content behind a paywall, but that's pretty much the only other option apart from ads.

      The skipping TV commercials argument is dumb, because you don't have to sit and watch an ad on MUO before reading the content. It's just there in the background.

      Of course you're free to do what you want, but you have to acknowledge that if everyone used an ad-blocker most sites would stop producing content. Do you expect writers to work for free?

      • Anonymous
        August 13, 2016 at 3:40 pm

        "We don't want to put content behind a paywall"
        Will going behind a paywall generate higher revenue than having a free site that has to endure adblockers? I'm sure some bean counter at MUO crunched the numbers.

        • Dave Parrack
          August 14, 2016 at 11:13 am

          I doubt it at this point. We're not arrogant enough to assume people would pay to access the site. Again, we're talking about a point in the future if and when everybody is using adblockers, not right now.

        • Anonymous
          August 14, 2016 at 1:09 pm

          In spite of what many on the MUO staff are claiming, the sky is not falling because of adblockers. If a site offers good content AND sensible ads, it need not worry about adblockers. Of course, if the site policy is to make every visitor see EVERY ad, the site deserves whatever befalls it.

        • Dave Parrack
          August 14, 2016 at 6:13 pm

          That's not true, because most people who use adblockers will turn them on by default and so never even see if a site is running "sensible" ads. We plead with people to whitelist us, and lots of people do. The majority, however, ignore our pleas.

  5. Elvis
    August 12, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    To all of you ad-supported sites: stop it. Quit playing victim. You're not.

    You put your site on the 'net. Freely available.

    You want to make money though for all of your hard work (we are all grateful-- thanks. Really!) But with ads.

    You want us to not block your ads? Then:

    1. Don't let them track me all across the web (some tracking is okay to "personalize" the ads... to an extent).
    2. Don't make them videos. I hate it when auto-playing ad videos go on. They slow down the web page that's loading. And sometimes it freaks me out because I was just playing music loudly, and because the volume is turned up still, it SCARES me (lol--my fault on that one)
    3. Make the ads stop wasting my precious battery life. On a laptop, with ad-blocking enabled, I can easily save ~30 minutes of battery life (almost all I do on my laptop is web browsing).
    4. This is more tailored to Windows users (but Mac and Linux is not always an exception): be more thorough in malware-ridden ad scrubbing. I don't want my computer to crash from an ad (of all things). Or just use native ads (resistant to ad-blockers... what do ya know? Just solved everyone's issue :-D

    Also... there are many more ways to make money. I know, because I have a website too. There are affiliates, guest postings, native ads (again, resistant to ad blockers since they can just be images), donations, etc. Here is a chart for you (sure, this is for "blogging", but can be applied in certain areas to every site on the 'net):

    But, since everyone is going to keep complaining about people blocking ads in the near future, I have one thing to say: be quiet. You are not entitled to a job on the web. If it doesn't work for you (there are workarounds though, so don't give up!) get a job somewhere else. And don't be so dependent on ads for revenue. Everyone hates them.