Safer Internet: Browsing: Block Ads


  • billboard+ Pop-up windows, 'malvertising' and 'clickbait' can be dangerous avenues for malware and fake news
  • + Ads (visible) are increasingly numerous, ugly, annoying, cluttering
  • + Tracking scripts (invisible) can identify you across websites to better target ads at you
  • + Without ads/tracking: (generally) less data consumption, faster page load times, longer battery life
  • - Some adblockers might not block all ads (new tech, publisher payoffs)
  • - Some publishers may detect ad blockers and block content access
  • - Many (small) publishers rely on advertising to provide content
  • - If too many users block ads & trackers, might some useful ad-supported sites sites disappear?

[1] Before: Block Pop-ups

  • churchmacOS: Safari > Preferences > Security > Block pop-up windows
  • macOS: Firefox > Preferences > Content > Block pop-up windows [screenshot]
  • iOS: Settings > Safari > Privacy & Security > Block pop-ups [screenshot]
  • If necessary for some sites to function, re-enable temporarily, then re-disable.

[1] After: Avoid Pop-ups

  • popupSome pop-up (or pop-under) windows may occur despite block settings, and appear to "hijack" your browser
  • Some may warn of detected malware, and offer software, services, scams or scans
  • Although you should already be protected (see Software Updates, Malware sections),
    you might still be vulnerable to "drive-by" malware -- so, do not click on links or close the popup, or respond to the threats/offers (would reputable organizations/companies act this way?)
  • Instead, close the browser entirely ('forcibly' if necessary), then run your own malware scan.
  • I haven't encountered this problem in iOS, but if you need to force-close a window or force-quit Safari:
  • iOS: (diagonal pinch gesture; window thumbnails) > tap "x" in upper left of window
  • iOS: (4-finger swipe up gesture; all open apps; flick left/right if Safari not visible) > swipe up on Safari
  • macOS: Safari (in Dock) > ctrl-click > Quit (or Force Quit)
  • extortionSafari icon > click w/ Shift key -- to reopen w/o previous windows
  • [Refs:macOS]: "When adware attacks! And how to defeat it"
  • Win: (task bar) > right-click (on window) > Close
  • [2] Win: ctrl-alt-del > Task Manager > Applications > (browser) > Close
  • [Refs:Win]: "My browser gets stuck and won't close out"

[1] Install Ad-blocking Extension (aka "Content Blocker")

  • blindersSeveral different approaches / business models:
  • 'avoidance': avoid ads in first place: find alternatives to ad-heavy sites, apps, services, e.g., Facebook, Google
  • 'consensual': block all except those you allow via opt-in or whitelist; e.g., Privacy Badger; too drastic?
  • 'acceptable ads'; block all ads except vendor allows, e.g., Adblock Plus; who decides which sites are on whitelist vs. blacklist?
  • 'anonymised tracking': block ads but provides summary data; e.g., Ghostery
  • 'some blocking free': pay for additional blocking; e.g., Disconnect and 1Blocker
  • [Refs]: "Ad Blockers Are Making Money Off Ads (And Tracking, Too)"
  • Before: If using HTTPS: or VPN, some ads not inserted by your ISP; a VPN may also make it more difficult for ad sites to identify you
  • Before: If using WPA2 (WiFi), avoid local 'man-in-the-middle' ads/malware
  • Before: if you use Safari's "Reader View" (if available), most ads, navigation and sidebars are removed
  • Before: use an ad blocker to remove adds and reduce tracking
  • other advantages: speeds up page loading; downloads less data, esp. important for limited data plans.
  • many good extensions are free; some paid tools are waste of money, and possibly malware
  • may block ads/tracking only in web browsers, not apps
  • suggested tools: AdBlock Plus; Blur; Ghostery; Privacy Badger; [3] uBlock Origin {TCYOP-3: 78-80, 83}
  • Ghostery: {TCYOP-3: Figure 12: 79; TCYOP-2: Figure 12: 71; TCYOP-1: Figure 11: 72}
  • [Refs:Mac]: "The Best Browser Extensions that Protect Your Privacy"
  • [Refs]: How to Print Web Page Articles Without Ads or Other Unwanted Content from a Mac with Safari"
  • macOS: Safari > Preferences > Extensions > Get Extension : AdBlock Plus
  • macOS: AdBlock Plus > [deselect] Allow some non-intrusive advertising
  • iOS: Settings > Privacy > Advertising > Limit Ad Tracking Enabling this will cut down on unnecessary network traffic, but doesn't totally block
  • iOS: Settings > Safari > Content Blockers
  • Before iOS 9 (or on older devices, e.g., iPhone 4s), no Safari extensions (content blockers); however, Ghostery and Adblock Plus have standalone browsers
  • If a mobile-friendly site doesn't work:
  • iOS: Safari > [press refresh icon] > Reload Without Content Blockers
  • iOS: Safari > [press refresh icon] > Request Desktop Site

[2] Selectively Allow (Whitelist) Ads?

[3] Remove Adware

  • Before: obtain software only from official app stores, and pay attention to installation options
  • After: tools to remove adware, e.g., macOS: AdwareMedic
  • [Refs:macOS]: "When adware attacks! And how to defeat it"


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