On August 9, Facebook publicly announced it was taking a stand against ad blockers by preventing ad blocking software from working on its desktop site.
Behind the scenes, Facebook has been locked in a back-and-forth battle with the ad blocking community ever since.
Adblock Plus published a blog post on Thursday, showing how the “ping pong” match has been playing out so far.
- Adblock Plus
It didn’t take long for the open source developer community to figure out a workaround.
Just two days after Facebook’s announcement, Adblock Plus noted that a new filter was added to the popular list most ad blocking extensions use, EasyList. The lists tell the ad blockers which parts of the web page they should and shouldn’t block. Filters work by detecting indicators in a webpage’s code that mark out where the ads are.
And so the game of bat and ball began.
Facebook quickly moved to change its ad indicators.
The open source community would notice the changes and update the filter.
Facebook would change the indicator again.
The open source developer community would volley a new filter right back at Facebook.
Now it appears Facebook has worked out a way to remove all the ad indicators from its code, so it’s proving more difficult for the EasyList community to figure out a way to continue to block Facebook’s ads. They’re working on it, though.
One might call that: “Time out” in this eternal game of ping pong.
Facebook clearly prepared for this kind of battle, although the company told Business Insider it doesn’t comment on the size of its teams for any project or initiative.
It’s even more difficult to estimate the size of the open source developer community working in their own time for free to discover a way to circumvent Facebook’s ad blocker ban.
Arguably fewer than the open source community of volunteers who live to stick it to The Man.
— David Carroll (@profcarroll) August 18, 2016
But there is little doubt this cat and mouse game is far from over. And right now, Facebook is the cat.
- Budimir Jevtic/Shutterstock