Monday Action: Free yourself from the Ad-people
See also Monday Actions.
The Internet is an odd place to be. While you undertake internet searches, read your emails or generally look around, hundreds of adverts are confronting you. Yet some of those adverts are also watching what you’re doing, using feedback scripts and the like. The web is becoming increasingly deluged with marketing that’s aimed at getting the ‘right’ advertising message to us, that its sometimes hard to see where the real, non-commercial, people-driven web has got to. And its getting worse, with one of the biggest snooping culprits being bought out by another (this blog post explains, but its a bit technical)
Can you escape the snooping and the associated flood of non-sense? Yes you can, and it’ll speed up your net connection as well…
First off, let me say that you’ll get no where without a decent browser. Internet Explorer is a commercial browser that makes life very easy for companies to deliver their messages to you. And so you really need something better. The tips I’m going to give you are designed for Firefox, but most other browsers also have plug-ins to do the same tricks.
The idea of this as a Monday action is to take a stand against the commercialisation of cyber space and the increasing infringement of advertisements on our lives. The fact is, you’ll probably find your life a little easier having done this, as well. Its kind of direct-action-meets-de-clutter-of-life. Lets see what can be done…
Number 1: The Basic Ad Blocker
I discovered Ad Block Plus by accident some months ago, and have taken to installing it on peoples computers when they’ll let me ever since. It basically prevents any images from loading which come from advertising companies. This means that they don’t download, which in turn means you get the real content a lot faster.
1) Click the download link. Firefox detects that its a plug-in and offers to install it for you. Click “Install Now”. Restart Firefox if need be.
2) When asked to configure ABP, select one of the filter subscriptions. This saves you configuring the system, and they update often enough.
Now visit a website that usually has lots of adverts on it, and you’ll hopefully see lots of blank space where you expect to be faced with reminders to go spend money. Freedom step 1 completed…
Number 2: Script Blocking
Scripts were originally meant to allow websites to do nice things that couldn’t be acheived in the basic HTML formatting. Sadly, nowadays most scripts are written for the benefit of websites and advertisers, rather than for your benefit. There’s another Firefox add-on to deal with this, called No Script. Just download it and install it, and it should run straight out of the box.
You’ll start to get messages when you visit sites saying that scripts have been blocked. Its up to you if you choose to allow each site. I mark everything that sounds advertiser-ish (Google Analytics included) as ‘untrusted’. After a few weeks you’ll find yourself very used to deciding which sites to allow scripts from and which not to, plus most of your regular-visit sites will be sorted.
And there you have it. Now you can travel the net without having your privacy invaded and without having to read around banner ads. Enjoy!