In Brief

Facebook locked in a vicious ad-blocking cycle

Social networking site and Adblock Plus at war over advertising

Facebook has found itself embroiled in a row with the developers and users of a popular ad-blocking software after a series of changes to the way adverts work on the social media site.

Last Tuesday, the site announced it had developed ways to circumvent software such as Adblock Plus, which is used by around 100 million people to prevent ads appearing on pages, reports the BBC.

The changes alter the nature of adverts displayed so they appear like normal posts, essentially tricking the software into letting them be seen.Alongside that, Facebook said it was giving users more control over the sorts of ads they saw and said sponsored posts would be more in line with their specific interests.

However, the move was not wholly altruistic. "Almost every penny Facebook makes comes through advertising - and so any threat to that model really does put the entire company at risk," says the BBC.

In response, the community behind Adblock Plus rose to the challenge of beating Facebook's undetectable adverts and by Thursday, had found a workaround – which sparked a bunfight between the two companies.

In a blog post, Adblock's developers said that while a giant such as Facebook could find a way to "re-circumvent" the new filters, "for this round of the cat-and-mouse contest, [it] looks like the mouse won".

Firing straight back, Facebook claimed the new filters were detrimental to users and would block posts from family and friends alongside advertisements.

"We're disappointed that ad blocking companies are punishing people on Facebook," said a spokesperson.

Facebook also spoke out against so-called "whitelisting", reports The Guardian, when ad blockers allow what they deem "acceptable advertisements" to pass through filters – if the website in question pays for the privilege.

Many of the rules around whitelisting, such as advertisements not interrupting the natural flow of the webpage and only occupying spots around the edges of the page, don't fit in with Facebook considering the social network site uses sponsored posts embedded within its news feed as its most important digital billboard.

Now, reports the International Business Times, Facebook has developed a workaround to Adblock's counter-patch - and the two may simply go on and on dealing blows against each other. 

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