Ping pong with Facebook · 2016-08-18 15:00 by Ben Williams

Many of you have been asking about what’s happening with Facebook’s circumvention of ad blockers. As you’ll remember, last week the social media leviathan announced that they would initiate a full-on ads force-feed to all their users, even if they use ad-blocking software. Or, in their words, “we’re providing an update on our approach to ad blocking on Facebook.”

Then came a workaround developed by the immense, open source ad-blocking community, followed by a few back-and-forths between the ad-blocking community and Facebook in what has been waxed on metaphorically as a “cat-and-mouse game,” “whack-a-mole” or even an “arms race.” The short update to all this is that Facebook’s sponsored posts, which show up in your feed, are not being blocked right now. Boo.

But not boo hoo … because, as usual, that is only half of a story that is still evolving in true cat-and-mouse style. Remember, this isn’t a tussle between Facebook and Adblock Plus, but rather between Facebook and all web citizens. In any case, below is an update.

Wha’ happen?

Ad blockers block ads based upon filters, which tell it what elements on a page to block. Those elements are identifiable as ad content, because in their code there are certain indicators that show they are ads. Think of these indicators as badges or signposts on the open internet with which ads can be differentiated from organic content.

Usually these indicators are obvious – they often even contain the word “ad.” In addition, most sites serve ads from third parties, which send out their own telltale signs. But Facebook is unique, because they serve their own ads. This control gives them the power to make their indicators as meaningless and obscure to non-Facebook developers as they want.

For instance, before last week, Adblock Plus and others were blocking all Facebook ads based upon three filters in the base block list called EasyList – a product of the afore-mentioned open-source community. Previous to Facebook’s path to circumvention, their ads were differentiated from their normal content by two innocuous letters: “ei”; so (basically) the blocking filters just needed to specify that if an element had the “ei” in it, it should be blocked because it is an ad. Here they are:

Then last week happened. It was indeed a back-and-forth battle, because they would change their indicators, the open source community that updates the EasyList filters would spot the new ad indicators, Facebook would remove again, the community would block again, etc. Cue cat-and-mouse game … or how about ping pong?

Fast forward to the evening of August 12, last Friday, when the ad-blocking community had found another indicator in the code. It was again seemingly meaningless: [data-timestamp], but after comparing ads to organic content, the ads did not contain the timestamp code above. The organic content, however, did. So this filter was added to EasyList, removing ad elements by blocking all those without the indicator:

Then ping … pong, Facebook added that indicator to sponsored content as well. As of now that would appear to be the last indicator that is readily accessible in the (parent) element.

Why removing ad indicators is dangerous

Clearly differentiating between paid-for and organic content is hugely important, because journalism is supposed to be that “fourth estate” which informs us about what politicians and businesspeople are doing. An ad is something different, because its intention is not to inform, but to market. For the consumer, knowing the difference is crucial.

That’s why the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) might be interested if Facebook has indeed removed the very last differentiator in their code between ad and not-ad. Furthermore, if this practice is taken further, it could be very deceptive for people who cannot see the screen as Facebook intended it. For instance, those who use assistive technology like screen readers, people with poor or no eyesight for example, might not be able to tell the difference between ads and organic content. And finally, could such a move by an absolute, indisputable internet titan like Facebook, if not deterred, influence and even sanction this behavior from others? Could this … gulp … be precedent-setting?

The inevitable solution

While Facebook appears to have had the last word for now, this, friends, is a long game. That being said, a few other ad blockers have apparently found workarounds to Facebook’s latest circumvention. Better yet, Princeton University just started offering something they’re calling Facebook Ad Highlighter, which very unambiguously points out that a post is sponsored.

This is instructive, because while Facebook may have slashed and burned all the immediate ad indicators, there are countless ways to work around this. For instance, blocking ads based on the visible “Sponsored” tag is a little more difficult, because that element is buried deeper in the post itself. But there are at least two ways that this too will become a clear indicator that allows blockers to block.

What we hope users will remember is that there is a gargantuan, unstoppable community that has already contributed to several workarounds; there are academics and other ad blockers working on solutions, too; a few commenters in our last post said they’d found their own workaround; and so on … Facebook is going against the will of the user and that typically doesn’t end well. Facebook may have started this game of ping pong, but out on the open internet the user always wins.

Comment [69]

  1. trudy · 2016-08-18 15:38 · #

    Thanks for all the work you folk do.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Thank YOU!

  2. Mac · 2016-08-18 15:39 · #

    Look, I don’t mind FB dropping a cookie counter and getting credit for posting an ad.. that is how they get paid. BUT I think I should have the option of not having to SEE those ads.. that’s all I want.. let them count their ads.. Hundreds of em for all I care.. I just don’t want them cluttering up my newsfeed page.

  3. Joseph Braid · 2016-08-18 15:41 · #

    I wouldn’t mind the Facebook ads as long as they were related to my personal interests and didn’t clutter my feed with content I don’t want to view.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Actually, FB lets you adjust settings, so you get only ads about things you like and brands you want to correspond with. Check out your preferences.

    And if you have an ad blocker, but would like to whitelist FB, then you can do that too.

  4. oui_la_voix · 2016-08-18 15:54 · #

    oh wait : http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/272967/the-white-lie-behind-adblock-plus-white-list.html

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Hey oui_la_voix,
    We’re proud of our Acceptable Ads initiative. It allows us to monetize, sure, but it also encourages better ads.

    Turn it off if you don’t like it.

  5. Mani Gandham · 2016-08-18 16:00 · #

    Ads are an important part of the ecosystem that pays for all the free services and content that we consume.

    While I completely understand the majority of online ads are a terrible user experience and security nightmare and should be blocked – Facebook has some of the cleanest and most non-intrusive ads around.

    Blocking everything just because it’s an ad means that adblockers are no longer about improving the web but just engaging in endless war with these services. Vendors that are clearly acceptable should be let through, encouraging the right behavior and helping to sustain the services and content we all want.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    I mostly agree. That’s why we have the Acceptable Ads initiative.

    Although we don’t think absolute ad blocking is the answer, users can turn off Acceptable Ads if they do. So while I agree in the main, I think users should always have the option to block ‘em all if they choose.

  6. Dssium · 2016-08-18 16:33 · #

    Hello, i just write comment in other article, for me worked perfectly friends feed add on for chrome. This block everything thats not from your friends or pages you liked. Work like charm. Can you apply same principle?

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Probably not, I think … but will check. Cheers.

  7. routehero · 2016-08-18 16:51 · #

    Easylist is a product of Eyeo.

    The primary author of Easylist is MonztA:

    https://github.com/easylist/easylist/commits/master?author=monzta

    And the primary author of Eyeo’s acceptable ads programme is MonztA:

    https://hg.adblockplus.org/exceptionrules/shortlog

    And he is identified as the ABP IT Officer on their official forums:

    https://adblockplus.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=21766

    Open source community?

    How is it possible for the person who breaks sites to accept payment and whitelist them in Acceptable Ads? Isn’t that a conflict of interest?

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Nope, it isn’t. But you are a bit obsessed.

    While s/he may be a filter list author, the wider community is much, much larger. You have no idea, and neither do I, how much back-and-forth goes into writing a specific filter. The commit person just pushes it. And the author you refer to is not even the main one btw: https://github.com/easylist/easylist/graphs/contributors

    But s/he is an employee at Eyeo. However, her/his work is strictly concerned with the whitelist and other tasks, and excludes EasyList entirely. Notice when all the EasyList commits were made: after work hours.

    Btw, routehero, where do you work? Any chance you’re conflicted?

  8. palatongamalaba · 2016-08-18 17:13 · #

    Don’t try to take the moral hight ground, with your white-list you are a mafia collecting protection money, this is racket :
    https://www.ft.com/content/80a8ce54-a61d-11e4-9bd3-00144feab7de

    Facebook has every right to manage its DOM, you have no right to force them to make it easy to detect an ad for your poor featured and slow adblock.
    Next time Facebook will use cryptographically unpredictable DOM obfuscation technique ( https://github.com/elierotenberg/react-armor ) and it will their absolute right. I will continue to use µBlock, maybe build an extension to try to counteract them but mostly not use Facebook as I ever did, but I don’t try to make people believe I morally superior while collecting racket money.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    We’re proud of our Acceptable Ads initiative, and it’s totally legit that we make money from it. If you don’t dig it, that’ll be fine. You can use an ad blocker that doesn’t offer it or you can turn it off.

    Didn’t mean to come off too self-righteous, for real, but I’m glad to be on the side of this I’m on. I agree that FB can try to force ads on people who don’t want to do it; but I also think that the people have every right to try and work around those ads if they want.

  9. Angie · 2016-08-18 17:30 · #

    Each ad is in the <div> with a line “<span>Suggested Post</span>”. could that be singled out for blocking? Or the word “sponsored”?

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    It could, but we’d need to do some more testing on an improvement allowing blocking for child (as opposed to parent) elements, and implement that, before so. Pretty sure some blockers already implemented this, but we want to test it more before releasing.

  10. routehero · 2016-08-18 17:45 · #

    Thanks for the response Ben.

    Just curious, what are the office hours that you guys maintain?

    https://github.com/easylist/easylist/commit/dc6293680a915d6e7a224c36ebe4d012e1ac530f

    This rule was created at

    Date: Thu Aug 11 16:05:34 2016 +0200

    16:05 in my local time is still regular business hours. Seems like an active employee of Eyeo was writing a rule to blacklist Facebook during their office hours.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Keeping tabs on us, eh, routehero? :) I emailed her/him. S/he took half the day off that day.

  11. nancy · 2016-08-18 17:59 · #

    @palatongamalaba

    While facebook has every right to modify their site, what they are doing is still unethical. Don’t like people with blockers viewing your site? Block the people. Don’t trick and break their security measures.

    I can already hear the objection about how they can’t afford to do this because most people would rather close facebook than close their ad blocker. If that’s the case, then revise your business model.

    Just because someone has a legal right to do something doesn’t mean that action is ethical. And the action facebook has taken here is clearly in the wrong.

    @routehero – Making these types of comments comes off as desperate, not clever. And like many of facebook’s (yours?) ads, is just an attempt to alter people’s behavior through misinformation. It won’t work.

  12. Fire and Ice · 2016-08-18 19:00 · #

    Friends Feed doesn’t work for news feed ads. Made no difference.

  13. Huge Hands · 2016-08-18 19:59 · #

    At the very least, if there was some way to get the ‘Hide Ad’ option to work when clicking on it in the news feed. Why would Adbook, oops I mean Facebook, even include the option to hide the ad if it just keeps reappearing anyway.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Not sure I getcha completely, but FB didn’t let you hide the ads. It just let you opt out from certain brand’s advertising.

  14. Frank Nostro · 2016-08-18 20:19 · #

    For Chrome users that are comfortable with “Developer Mode”, this works for me:

    https://github.com/fnostro/FFBAds

    I’m new to writing extensions…about 48 hours new, so forgive any glaring mistakes. It’s simple, and it works and I don’t see much overhead in the Chrome task manager, so until something better comes along…there’s this

  15. Eric Alvaro · 2016-08-18 20:44 · #

    I just don’t get why this is so hard. Just search the sentence “Suggested Post” written in plain english and block them. I don’t get why this would be so hard..

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    It’s because usually blocking is done through indicators in the “parent” element of a post; the Suggested bit is a “child” element, meaning it’s deeper in the post. We’ve got a ticket up to allow “child” element blocking, but we want to test it more to make sure it’s stable: https://issues.adblockplus.org/ticket/2360

  16. nancy · 2016-08-18 21:14 · #

    @Eric if it is so easy rather than crying about it do it yourself. The problem is, as you exactly stated, you don’t understand why this is so hard. Emphasis on ‘don’t understand’. So let me explain to you.

    The filter system used by adblock and most adblockers cannot see page content like ‘Suggested Post’. It works on CSS selectors which can only see the HTML of the page, not the content.

    It’s not hard to add functionality to also see the content, people are already doing it – and if you know where to look you can get a tool that will block those ads right now.

    The problem is that if too many people do this (e.g. adblock which reaches many users) FB can also change the ‘Suggested Post’ so hardcoding that into adblock doesn’t make sense. So what adblock is probably doing is working on a more robust filtering system that can also see content beyond just CSS and ‘suggested post’. To do this, they need to think about longer term design than your instant-gratification “OMG why doesn’t this work” entitlement cries.

    They need to think about how to make the filtering method / system more powerful, and what other things they might need to address, if, for example, facebook changes the ‘Suggested Post’ text to something like an image.

    Impatiently crying helps no one. If this is easy to fix then fix it yourself. Otherwise be patient while the people who actually can do this difficult task do it for you, free of charge.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Wow, nancy, I provided a totally inferior explanation above :D … before I’d seen yours. But in defense of @Eric, I wouldn’t say he was crying. He just wants an explanation, which is another reason we’re here :)

  17. Frank Nostro · 2016-08-18 21:14 · #

    @Eric – yes finding the text is a possibility,
    Better is looking for “a.uiStreamSponsoredLink”

    The problem is more complicated than simply finding the ad link. The ad link is only one tiny part of an inserted ad. You can easily hide the link, but that’s it, not the rest of the 3“x4” ad space FB inserts into the stream.

    Without getting into any detail, It’s against web rules for filter patterns to act on the ancestor/parent of a child element.

  18. Scot · 2016-08-18 21:58 · #

    I live way out in the sticks and my only access to the Internet is through a satellite service that comes with data caps. In my case, that’s 10Gb/month total data, doesn’t matter if it’s up or down. So when a company chooses to force advertising into my pipe, and I can no longer choose to block it, it costs me money.

    Thank you for your efforts to restore choice to users like me!

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Thanks for the support, Scot! Btw, I’m from the sticks too, so I get where you’re coming from.

  19. James · 2016-08-18 22:12 · #

    blablabla, just explain why ADP have a list of non-blocked ads and worst, anyone who can pay what you want can join this list. Such a shame!

    You are running the most sophisticated mafia extorsion scheme. :claps:

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Nope, James, you’re totally wrong I’m afraid. There is no pay to play. Criteria must be met first, no exceptions. After they’re met about 10 percent pay for the work we put into creating more value for them. If you don’t like it, just turn it off.

  20. Dan · 2016-08-18 22:39 · #

    @Scot – AdBlock Plus does not actually affect bandwidth usage for the ads it blocks with CSS rules. The ads are still downloaded, they’re just made invisible after they’re downloaded.

  21. Satyannarayana Yedla · 2016-08-18 22:42 · #

    Great work!

    Can we add filters for a particular site, without enabling the ABP?

    If it works, many of us will be benefited by the ABP.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    You’d need ABP or another content blocker to interpret the filter, but you can write any filter you want.

  22. Some Guy · 2016-08-18 22:45 · #

    palatongamalaba:

    I hope you understand how insane a ‘cryptographically unpredictable DOM’ sounds. If that is the length to which you must go to force people who don’t want to see ads to see them, then you, my friend, have an unsustainable revenue model.

    What is going to happen is that you are going to lose the upstream revenue. Internet ads are worth a pittance compared to other types of ads precisely because it is abundantly clear that advertising doesn’t work. It doesn’t work anywhere but it’s most obvious online. So once the heavyweights pull out – your P&Gs, your General Motors – what’s left? The ‘weird trick’ scamsters. Good luck paying overinflated techie salaries on that.

    And maybe you will win the ad block war, but it will be a Pyrrhic victory and you will be left with tremendous ill will from your user base.

    The tech industry would be wise to think twice before killing the golden goose.

  23. Amanda · 2016-08-19 00:45 · #

    Avoiding Facebook, I have been logged out everywhere since this thing started, but quickly began getting notifications from them to “see what my friends are sharing…”. Daytime on my phone is irritating. Every single day! Middle of the night on my tablet is downright mean – I use it to listen to podcasts & cope with chronic insomnia. It’s outrageous that facebook advertises itself when I am logged out. I guess I need to uninstall the apps too.

  24. Shawn · 2016-08-19 02:46 · #

    I have dissabled my fb account until this is over. All we really have to do is get enough people to leave facebook and this will die.

  25. ASMuser · 2016-08-19 04:11 · #

    I noticed when you block a page, it makes them disappear from a sponsored post, so if only there was a script or software that auto-blocked a page. Maybe a compiled list of all advertisers that appeared in sponsored posts that have bought fb ads.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    There’s a solution in the works, hang tight!

  26. Kevin · 2016-08-19 10:24 · #

    Hello I have a solution who work right now :

    // ==UserScript==
    // @name Remove ads facebook august 2016
    // @namespace facebook
    // @version 0.1
    // @description try to take over the world!
    // @author You
    // @grant none
    // @match https://www.facebook.com/*
    //@require http://code.jquery.com/jquery-latest.js
    // ==/UserScript==

    (function() { ‘use strict’;

    // Your code here… setInterval(function() { console.log(‘Interval detection’); var i = 0; var txt=”“; jQuery(‘a[href*=“about/ads”]’).each(function() { txt = jQuery(this).text(); i++; jQuery(this).parents().filter(’#substream_1’).attr(“style”,“display:none;”).css({display:“none”}).remove(); jQuery(this).parents().filter(‘div[id*=hyperfeed_story]’).attr(“style”,“display:none;”).css({display:“none”}).remove(); console.log(“Ads detected remove the parent” ); }); }, 500);

    })();

    I have a second solution i think is a smart solution to take text “Sponsored” text from tag <a> and find the good parent to delete. To find the good parent i suggest to check the “height” size, will do parent.. parent.. parent… and check the different between the last and next parent at moment the top level parent will be the full story so a big height

  27. routehero · 2016-08-19 11:44 · #

    Ben, sounds like MonztA is a keeper. An employee who is so diligent that they continue to work on a day off?

    On the same day that MonztA added a rule hiding Facebook ads, the same day in which you said they had a day off, this was created in Acceptable Ads.

    https://hg.adblockplus.org/exceptionrules/rev/7af63cd76684
    https://hg.adblockplus.org/exceptionrules/rev/f56bb66e85f8

    The next day, to help Ebaumsworld and during business hours, MonztA removed a element hider in Easylist:

    https://github.com/easylist/easylist/commit/dec94605e5a2db34c171e14c265fafaa8787b60a

    I wonder what we would see if we correlated all of the commits in Easylist and their respective commits in Acceptable Ads. Sure looks like a concerted effort to me, but I am a little obsessive.

    And, just some friendly advice. Your page here:

    https://adblockplus.org/en/contribute

    Says in bold:

    “Eyeo GmbH, the company behind Adblock Plus, has no right to, or control over, any filter list content other than Acceptable Ads.”

    But as we now both know, this is not true — the primary Acceptable Ads filter list author is also a filter list author on Easylist, where they do spend some parts of their business hours creating rules forcing people to use the Acceptable Ads program.

  28. sudo rm -rf · 2016-08-19 12:58 · #

    @routehero Are you an idiot, or an idiot? If you’re not an idiot you’re a an idiot anyway :D

  29. Nerp · 2016-08-19 15:10 · #

    I wrote a script that simply looks for ‘suggested content’ and ‘hide ad’ options. Seems to work quite well.

  30. yesyep · 2016-08-19 16:24 · #

    routehero is only one of the idiots from Mindgeek (owners of pornhub network) which is very upset for the websocket wrapper.

    They wont be able anymore to deliver malware / popups.
    Right Scott ? :)

  31. Shepherd · 2016-08-19 16:46 · #

    @routehero we pray for your sheeps that have gone astray.
    Happy to share with you youtube.com/watch?v=kqVKvRTmbj0

  32. David · 2016-08-19 20:18 · #

    Since Farcebark seems bent on circumventing the adblockers, I decided to use Farcebark’s own tools against it. I opened up the privacy settings page in a separate tab, switch to “Manage Blocking.” Any time a “Sponsored Post,” “Suggested Post,” or other ad is shown in my feed, I note the name of the page, switch to the “Manage Blocking” tab and add that page to my blocked pages list. Then I switch back to my newsfeed and hide the ad. Ad blocked. Of course, I have to do it manually instead of having it done for me automatically vis-a-vis ad-blocking software.

    That said, I have noticed a few things about FB’s page blocking capabilities that may help filter developers; maybe not.

    1. Many of the ads/pages I’m blocking are described as “Media/Web Publisher” or some such. Contrary to FB’s declared approach to ads, very, very few of the ads/suggested posts have anything to do with what interests me.

    2. The block page tool uses a predictive text type tool to bring up similarly spelled pages in order to enable quick, accurate page selection. However, if a page is not brought up in the selection tool, it cannot be blocked. A page for AT&T is an example for me of this; I cannot block it. Some have complained on here of ADP’s alleged “hypocrisy” for taking payment to whitelist ads; maybe FB has its own payola list? It takes payment to “whitelist” a page and not allow it to be blocked, period.

    3. The blocking tool is not 100% effective as there are a couple of pages I have added to my blocked pages list that still come through. See #2 above. However, it does get 99%.

    4. Some people have complained that using the “Hide this Ad” tool does not work. This is more or less correct. If you hide an ad, but then refresh the page or scroll down the feed then back up, Farcebark unhides the ad. I find this to be a dishonest and unethical practice on the part of FB for this reason: if I hide someone’s status update from my feed, it stays hidden as opposed to ads. If I hide an ad, I expect it to be hidden, just as I would an individual’s status post.

    These behaviors I have noted may be of some help to filter developers, they may not. I don’t know. Maybe this information may be of help to someone else. Take it for what you will.

  33. ChrisE · 2016-08-19 22:56 · #

    One of the things that seems to highly neglected in almost every article posted online about the use of ad blockers is the very real benefit of preventing Malware from getting onto computers.

    I work in a repair shop, I have watched the evolution of malware from the old style viruses and trojans, to more modern malware still on the computer (FBI virus variants, Fake Antivirus malware, etc..) to what is by far the most common form for the past few months to a year.

    That being the fake support scam page, in 70-80% of cases the person doesn’t even have malware on the computer (maybe some light adware items such as Mindspark ones), but predominately it is simply their browser got redirected to one of many scam websites saying their computer has software issues, viruses, is being hacked, or what have you, prevents them from leaving the page and tries to scare them into calling the 800 number for the Fake support group.

    Who will invariably get remoted into their computer, say they have a host pf problems the person needs to pay $200-600 to fix.

    All these online articles all blame the users of adblocking software as nothing more then entitled people just looking for free content, or who don’t want to be ‘bothered’ by their pages taking a little longer to load to support what site they are using.

    I believe there are two of the many articles I have read on the subject that even mention malware as a reason people use ad blockers, and for me personally it is the primary and most important, as malware, especially what is by far the most common form as of today, is obtained, or browsers redirected by, ads.

    And in response to comments Facebooks comments on their ads, roughly 75% of those asked where they were when they ended up on one of the Fake support scam pages, or is tracked down while working on the computer, is Facebook, and this is not just people who inadvertently or not clicked on ads on the page.

  34. Kari Sinkko · 2016-08-20 01:46 · #

    I think there’s an easier option that doesn’t involve using Adblock plus or any script, stop using Facebook. That’s what I’ve done.

  35. James Edward Lewis II · 2016-08-20 08:03 · #

    For the people who are suggesting just looking for the text “Suggested Post” inside its own span element, nancy (#16) has the right idea: CSS cannot select elements based on their text content, and ABP would need to be massively changed to implement some way to make hiding rules that do allow hiding based on text content.

    The issue that Ben Williams linked to (about implementing the new :has() pseudo-selector, or XPath, or both) would allow such a thing, because XPath actually does allow selections based on text content (it also allows selection of nodes based on their children, which is precisely what :has() is intended to do in CSS).

    The reason, BTW, this hasn’t been done before is performance: CSS injection is much more performant than XPath evaluation or the jQuery-style implementation of new selectors (the syntax of the :has() pseudo-selector in CSS4 is directly based on jQuery but not yet natively supported by any browser; ABP and uBlock Origin do not use the implementation that jQuery uses, however).

  36. tendium · 2016-08-20 09:26 · #

    For those who are impatient. Here is a Greasemonkey script that you can use to block the adds on FB. It’s cleaner than the one that was posted before here. It doesn’t use any external library (e.g.. jQuery), but only vanilla JS. http://pastebin.com/PPHgnwAQ

  37. Facebook Ad Scroller · 2016-08-20 15:14 · #

    The “HIDE AD see fewer ads like this” menu option that Facebook saw fit to include with their over-abundant news feed ads doesn’t even work. But they made damn sure the ads work. The news feed scrolling takes way longer than it already did. The ‘free’ service is showing its price tag. And to those that say; “Stop using stupid Facebook if you don’t like it.” Well, to them I say; “Shutup.”

  38. hsien · 2016-08-20 17:39 · #

    Mr Ben Williams, I think thay you need to encrypt your filters…otherwise, it’s very easy for fb to see , in clear, what filter you found for their ads, and remove the key word from the address…

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Good point, but they’ve always been open source. We think it’s better that way, but thanks for the suggestion.

  39. modz · 2016-08-20 19:31 · #

    @hsien https://twitter.com/AdblockPlus/status/766280183406092288

  40. KFR · 2016-08-20 20:26 · #

    as we suspect fb to track anyone by metadata collection ,when hitting their redirectig logos “ anywhere “ , even without asking for consent as needed by law , we now use the ghostery replacement “ enable once “ ..just in case we need rare access to postings of interest ;

    same for the spying scripts blackmailing us to disable security , firewalls and virus zerodays ,which according to persons in law bizz might even be ciminial offence ,causing massive unwanted traffic as cost

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    If you’d like to block the social media buttons you find on the web, which collect your browsing habits for FB and others, ABP has a feature for that:
    https://adblockplus.org/en/features#socialmedia

    More generally, if you’d like to block tracking, we’ve got that too:
    https://adblockplus.org/en/features#tracking

  41. BV · 2016-08-21 07:47 · #

    Thanks for your great work.
    I know little about scripting but can the “Hide this Advert” one somehow be executed automatically ?

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    We’re working on a solution that would allow you to block based on the Sponsored tag. Hang tight!

  42. ASMuser · 2016-08-21 08:05 · #

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    There’s a solution in the works, hang tight!

    Thank You, Good!
    Please ensure adblock works for SRWare Iron Browser. I use it because google insisted on forcing upgrades on me and giving me no choice. It is based on Chromium.
    https://www.srware.net/en/software_srware_iron.php

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Rad, thanks for the support. ABP works on Iron. If you run into any issues, this might help: https://adblockplus.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=23564

  43. John M. · 2016-08-21 13:07 · #

    >“That’s why the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) might be interested if Facebook has indeed removed the very last differentiator in their code between ad and not-ad.”

    I don’t understand why that matters at all? The FTC does not (not even close) says, that advertisement must be specially marked or distinguished from other content. Especially not in a source code. FTC rules apply to the end users, who see the finally rendered website.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    I’m pretty sure the FTC does care about exactly that, i.e. ads that are not clearly distinguished as ads.

    https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/media-resources/truth-advertising
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-05/ftc-to-crack-down-on-paid-celebrity-posts-that-aren-t-clear-ads

  44. Andy · 2016-08-22 01:36 · #

    @David, I have been doing the same. for the pages that wont appear in the list you can hover over the page name of the offending ad and find out the @name for it. AT&T would be @att or as a very last resort if neither come up you can click on the page and click More, Block Page although that approach would give them a click.

    I have also wondered if facebook have been adding in random ad categories to show you ads. in my ad preferences I have seen suggestions for supposed celebrities or people who I have never heard of, people carriers, renault clio and various other things I have not talked about nor clicked on.

  45. Bob · 2016-08-23 03:33 · #

    Thanks for this. My labour-intensive workaround for now is to block all companies that appear in these ads. But I’m sure you will come up with something effective soon.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Hey Bob, doing our absolute best. Thanks for the support!

  46. Julie · 2016-08-23 17:06 · #

    Hey dev-type people, thanks a MILLION for all your work. You rock! I just sent you guys some donut money, and consider yourself long-distance-high-fived from Arizona <3

  47. Five To One · 2016-08-23 19:19 · #

    The ads are getting worse. The ratio now is 1 in every 5 news feed items is an ad.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Makes you think this was all part of a plan, eh?

  48. hsien · 2016-08-23 20:45 · #

    five-to-one, on my wall the ratio is 1 in 20 or 25 posts..Did u updated ABP filters? I also use FB Purity addon for firefox( to sort chronologically, disable emoticons bar, disable annoying groups etc)..it’s a must have, as it is ABP

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    We’re working on a fix, going as fast as we can!

  49. Frank Nostro · 2016-08-24 21:46 · #

    so, I bit the bullet and made a Chrome extension. Hope this helps in the interim.

    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/faceblock/elfjdommhjddccnkaddkmbkmndmgennl

  50. Will Mahan · 2016-08-25 01:47 · #

    I don’t mind seeing ads. I don’t even mind supporting ads I’m interested in with a click. Hell, I make a little money off ad revenue, myself. What I mind is not being able to readily tell the difference between posts and ads.

    These “Suggested posts” are really starting to piss me off. I’m usually attentive, but at the end of a long day when my mind and my body are fatigued, I’ve been duped into clicking on one or two of these, which means I’m flagging myself to see more of the same garbage from products/services I don’t use.

    Maybe it’s time to take another look at G+.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Yeah, those really skirt the line. It’s up to each user herself, really, whether she wants to see ads like that. Unfortunately, FB has decided to take away that option … but fear not! We’re working on a workaround.

  51. G_King · 2016-08-25 02:30 · #

    Adblock is the greatest thing ever! I appreciate everything you do but we need to hurry up and find a solution to this Facebook fiasco or I’m most likely gonna get banned from there. I can feel my blood simmering. I’m about to start blowing up the comments on those news feed ads with some real nastiness!

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Hey, we’re doing the best we can! This time, though, the fix requires a bit more testing. Hang tight!

  52. Pua · 2016-08-26 02:02 · #

    I wouldn’t mind so much but the ad posts are now about 50% of my news feed. What a waste of time. Almost no point in bothering logging in now.

    Hope they can find a way to block or they do get in trouble for making people think ads are actual posts.

  53. Teezee · 2016-08-26 19:28 · #

    Do you have an idea why I can’t play youtube videos directly from my news feed ? When I click on thumbnail (play button) thumbnail disappears and only title and link are left. When I disable adblock plus, it works.

  54. Weegee · 2016-08-27 19:18 · #

    This userscript works fine, (posted by previous user) just needed to swap [ads/about] with [about/ads]. Seems they pay devs to change little things like that often to mess with blocking.

    http://pastebin.com/tFqUCwik

  55. AngryFBuser · 2016-08-29 21:42 · #

    Just came here for an update, this is getting out of hand… These “suggested” posts are not only increasing in number, but they are also totally irrelevant and disgusting – I find it totally disturbing that FB shoves images of various skind diseases and funghi into my face a million times a day when I’m not even searching on any of this crap… Talk about “suggested”, right… NO, I DON’T WANT TO SEE THIS. Super annoying… I’m rooting for you guys :)

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Thanks for the support! We’re doing our best!

  56. Frank Nostro · 2016-08-29 23:23 · #

    If you’re a Chrome user, I made this extension as a temp solution

  57. Schwim Dandy · 2016-08-31 14:02 · #

    I’ve tried everything I’ve found across the web to block the sponsored posts but nothing has worked. Frank’s addon(the post above) did not work for me either. Sponsored posts are still showing.

    Not much of a ping pong game, TBH. I’ve seen the sponsored ads from the day they were introduced. In my personal experience, open source wasn’t the winner in this game.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Fair enough, but that blog post is also six days old — at that time the “ball” had been batted back and forth several times.

    Don’t count out the open source community. Circumvention has been around since ad blocking (>10 years), and we’re still standing …

  58. Schwim Dandy · 2016-08-31 15:12 · #

    “Don’t count out the open source community. Circumvention has been around since ad blocking (>10 years), and we’re still standing …”

    I do understand your point. For these ten years, Site owners and ad networks have ignored the adblock users as an unimportant minority for the most part and have made ad blocking much easier than it could have been. This is the first time in the last decade that an important behemoth has taken note and made a public declaration to stamp out adblocking. My point is that in my personal experience, it has worked. It only took one entity to really try. There was no ping-pong effect. I saw the ads from day one and every time I visited, I continued seeing the ads. That was the basis to my comment and of course, YMMV, depending on the frequency of your FB visits, timing of filter lists and FB updates. The fact that all of that had to align perfectly to hide an ad for an hour or two couldn’t be called a “win”.

    Adguard has had some promising results with their beta application from what I’ve read but I’ve yet to try it.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Cool, thanks for the thoughts. I think that it’s important to remember that FB isn’t the first big circumventer — and that we’ve been successful for years now against other such big ones … but you are correct: it’s a challenge.

    We’re testing something right now that will block the in-feed ads again, but we want to test it thoroughly before we run it out.

  59. Mark · 2016-08-31 23:20 · #

    This situation should be considered in law field but not as programmers competition. As experts in anti ad blocking technologies we do what FB just started for a long time and understand that it’s endless process. The final of this competition is ‘antivirus’ technologies in adblocking like heuristic analysis and etc. But deep page (code) modification without law basis means software hacking…

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    I disagree … ? If I’m getting this correctly. Ad blocking has been challenged by a veritable armada of huge German publishers, and has been held up every single time.

  60. Mark · 2016-09-01 21:10 · #

    You mean Alex springer? I think justice didn’t still understand the situation. Nothing in this world can be taken legally for free without owner permission( I remember the situation then US inventor of cure for cancer set unreasonably high price. And government can’t do anything because it’s his right. It’s terrible but it’s a law. We can’t come to shop and take something for free because it cost to much for us. If website “sell” its content for unreasonably high price (too much ads) we have the right to refuse from its product but not take it for free. I’m sure later judges will understand that. And understand that the only mean to limit volume of ads is limited it by law like on TV and not by permission to take product for free. Sorry for my opinion but I consider the problem both as Adblock user and anti-Adblock tools inventor (free media website owner).

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Hello again. Don’t worry about disagreeing. That’s fine, good even :)

    But I have to disagree again. It’s actually Axel Springer + five other big publishers, and I assume you’re talking about copyright law? Well, all the courts have confirmed that it’s a users’ right to block on their device if they so choose. This right was even recently re-underlined by the EU: while they presented a hurdle for network-level ad blocking they confirmed “traditional” ad blocking yet again. See the FT (paywall).

  61. Luis McFly · 2016-09-02 08:41 · #

    You guys made me cry. I love you so much!

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Thanks, Luis! Don’t cry though :)

  62. BKayrac · 2016-09-02 20:28 · #

    Adguard has the posts figured out and blocked in their latest beta. You may want to take a peek at how they are doing it so you guys can integrate it into your system?

    That said, I use adguard, so you guys may have also figured it out already, and if so, please ignore this :)

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Thanks for the feedback! We’re working on a solution too, but it will require a little more testing.

  63. Michael · 2016-09-03 17:39 · #

    Sorry Adguard! I’m rolling with the Adblock Plus. Adblock Plus has been protecting my computers from annihilation, before Adguard was even a gleam in it’s programmers eye.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Appreciate the support!

  64. cadiped · 2016-09-04 11:18 · #

    should this ext be using over 102mb ram for only facebook, the xfinity.com texting page, and a suspended tab (using the great suspended etx. and low res screenshot turned on)? I mean, I’m pretty sure that it shouldn’t take over 102 megs of ram to block ads on JUST facebook… ?? please hmu via email, I posted this on the FB adblock page and got no response… thanks =)

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Hey,
    Sorry you’re having issues. Please send a detailed description to support@adblockplus.org.

  65. JohnH · 2016-09-11 06:05 · #

    What I’m noticing about the sponsored posts is that they by and large are for non-profits that I already follow. That means FB is charging organizations that I use and support already, for my attention.

    I haven’t done this, just thinking out loud, but in the dialog box FB suggests I inform them of the type of ads I’d rather see. Has anybody loaded their ad prefs up with orgs and products they loathe, and then taken pleasure in clicking on them knowing that it’s costing them? I wonder what sort of effect that would have on a massive scale.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Yup. While the fact that FB’s algorithms favor friends’ posts over brands is user-friendly, it also forces brands to pay them for your attention. Clever little trick they played there, eh? ;)

  66. Gazdi · 2016-09-17 00:08 · #

    Hello, When will be available the FB’s suggested/sponsored ads remover feature in ABP ? They are very annoying…

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Very soon. We’re testing.

  67. Michael · 2016-09-20 02:17 · #

    Maybe the FB engineer thought they were being cute when they added ‘ei’ to prefix ad content. ‘Ei’ is Estonian for “no.”

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Could be. Maybe that engineer is in Estonia.

  68. Adam · 2016-09-25 17:58 · #

    I’ve noticed if you block the pages of sponsors that are flooding you with ‘suggested posts’ you never see an ad from them again. Granted there’s probably a ton of them you would have to block to clean anything up…

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Hey Adam,
    We just block the annoying ads :) If it’s sponsored or whatever, it’s all the same.

  69. Nameless Human · 2016-09-29 01:37 · #

    Sad to hear from FB, but also the fact that there are people working on fix it gives me hope. BTW, keep up the good work, you make the internet better!

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Thanks!

Commenting is closed for this article.