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08 September 2016 @ 02:43 am
The huge social, economic, and environmental costs of online ads  
This came from a friend of mine on a mailing list. I'm copy-pasting it here because I think it deserves a wider audience:

I think uBlock origin (the "origin" is important) is perhaps better than AdBlockPlus, since ABP takes money from advertisers to let through certain "approved" ads. But that doesn't mean it's terrible.

Also note that Facebook treats "http://www.pbpurity.com" as a malware site, and won't let you post it in facebook. That should tell you something.


Today I happened to be talking to a few people on FB about ads and ad
blocking. The context was about whether it is "stealing" content to run ad
blocking. Of course, it's all really gray. Are you stealing if you leave
the room during a commercial? What about fast-forwarding the DVR? What if
you talk to people and don't pay attention, aren't you stealing? I suppose
just watching less TV because of the ad annoyance is stealing too.

At the same time, I needed to completely blow out all of my Chrome
settings, plugins, everything. I've been having a few serious issues in
Chrome, and assume it's my settings, not major bugs in Chrome. So I did
the painstaking hour of work to get rid of every file on every device and
the server, then get them all logged back in and set up with the links and
logins I use 100% of the time.

During all this, I've been using the web without Adblock Plus, Flashblock,
and FB purity. Let me tell you, the web is a horrifying and unusable place
without those. We all know the obvious problem with ads, which is just
being distracting, annoying, and in the way. However there were a number
of things I had never considered that I've discovered today.

Power usage
This was most obvious on my MacBook 12, which is designed to need little
power and has no fans. It is tiny and light. Heavy power usage heats it
up and really abuses the battery life. Normally I get 12-14 hours from it,
but without ad blocking and just normal web surfing it looked like I was
going to lose 20-30% of the battery life. Ridiculous. We all pay more to
get more battery life, and advertisers are stealing this from us.

On the desktop, my new average power consumption is 174 watts. My normal
usage with all of the blockers is 135 watts. Holy shit. The difference is
more than all the LED lighting for the office, and more than my laptop uses
altogether. That's 40 watts wasted so I can see some ads, and another 40
watts of heat for my AC to remove.

CPU speed and screen space
The other things we pay for are CPU speed, more memory, and more screen
space. Once again, the advertisers are stealing a little (or a lot) of
each of these from you. Since my CPU usage is way up, I have much less
left for productive tasks. On my desktop (i7 quad-core 3.5, SSD, 32GB
memory) the CPU usage seems to be up around 20-80%, depending on what pages
are loading or playing their garbage. Even just leaving a bunch of tabs in
the background has raised CPU usage. The visible result is that many pages
stutter when scrolled or have a long delay when pressing page-up/down
keys. That's pretty insane on a modern, fast desktop with lots of memory.
And the ads eat up screen space. I recently upgraded to 4k because screen
space improves productivity so much. The advertisers are stealing some of
the cost of that upgrade from me.

Productivity and efficiency
A very loud ad started playing in a background tab. I didn't know which
one, so I'm flying through them all to see which one it is. Wonderful for
an office environment, eh? The obvious productivity costs are the slow UI
response, which when multiplied across many hours, days, months....really
adds up to some real time wasted. But then there's also the distraction
cost, and the cost of just feeling anxious when the computer doesn't
respond. Did I click that? Should I wait or click again? Oh, it moved.
Repeat a thousand times a day, and your brain will be frazzled.

My fans are running. They never do that unless I'm doing video
editing/compression. We all know how I feel about fan noise.

Now multiply all these costs across all of society, both the workplace and
home usage. The productivity cost is simply staggering. And also the
electricity cost. If every computer wasted only 10 watts on ads, do the

Advertisers must be opposed. Evangelize ad blocking and related
technologies. We can take back the internet by force.

I'm linking to some Chrome add-ons here, but all of these can run on
Firefox too (different versions obviously).




Christopher PouliotChristopher Pouliot on September 13th, 2016 03:34 pm (UTC)
host is not resolvable... ?
milktreemilktree on September 13th, 2016 04:29 pm (UTC)
Re: pbpurity.com

typo. fbpurity (as in FaceBookPurity) :)