Google’s controversial ad blocking option has begun rolling out in its Chrome browser.
It still continues to raise eyebrows as the search giant insists that its goals are primarily in the interest of the Internet user. But, as goes the Internet user, goes Google. If the online experience disintegrates into garbage, Google won’t have a base to serve ads or other services to, and, thus, it won’t have a business.
Where does the altruism end and the self-interest begin? It’s a question a lot of digital experts have been asking themselves since the initial announcement last year.
Ad Blocking Software Left Out in the Cold?
Now that Chrome can block ads, it would seem that third-party ad blockers are also out in the cold.
Everyone should, by rights, be up in arms about what amounts to a fairly massive change to Chrome and how it functions. But they aren’t. And here’s why: Chrome’s ad blocker only blocks 12 kinds of ads across both desktop and mobile. According to research by Adblock Plus, this also means only 17% of ads will be blocked by Chrome’s new extension.
Compare that to software packages like Adblock Plus, which can be configured to filter out every type of ad there is, including the pre-roll video spots that Google utilizes readily throughout YouTube. According to Google, these ads lay outside of the recommendations made by a larger group, the Coalition for Better Ads, of which it is a flagship member. So, while Chrome’s ad blocker will give some people some shred of protection from the worst ads on the Internet, no one will be able to use it to free themselves of ads served by Google itself.
Google as Evil Internet Empire
All of this sounds very evil empire in the grand scheme of things, but Google’s part is only a very small piece of the bigger climate. Companies like Adblock Plus are far from sainted consumer protectors themselves. Like Chrome’s ad blocking technology, Adblock Plus is able to disable ads from entire sites or allow all of the ads to come through, depending on which palms are properly greased.
Companies that include Google and Mozilla are on the list of businesses that pay “protection money” to remain whitelisted through Adblock Plus. It would seem that instead of developing in a new and all-encompassing angle, the Internet—and its seedy underbelly—has just gotten dragged out into the light.
Will Chrome’s ad blocking tech help the average user on their daily trips to the web? Almost certainly. But it’s going to help Google, too, and no one should pretend otherwise. Just because Google has mostly been a fairly kind and compassionate member of a small technological oligarchy doesn’t mean it isn’t still a member of the ruling class.