Facebook's new Atlas people-tracking system isn't popular, at least according to some of our readers, and now Adblock says it has found a way to block it.
"While Adblock Plus applauds innovation that improves the advertising experience for the user, we firmly believe that the user should have the choice whether or not they want to be tracked and targeted," Adblock said in a blog post.
"So, even as the dust is still settling on Facebook’s announcement of the Atlas ad platform, Adblock Plus quietly issued a work-around to Facebook’s newest tracking attempts. ABP now protects its users by blocking the ads the new Atlas tracking would serve across the web."
The Atlas system, announced on Tuesday, was bought by Facebook from Microsoft. It uses Like buttons on web pages, and other mechanisms, to monitor your browsing history – and then serves ads on other sites targeted for your interests. So if you visit a load of cooking websites, you'll see ads for kitchenware, recipe books, and whatnot. It can also track whether or not you eventually bought something.
It's an advertiser's wet dream; global ad giant Omnicom has already signed up to use the system. But it's also creeping out some Facebook users, and so Adblock has stepped in.
By installing its advert blocking software, users apparently can break the tracking cycle of Atlas, and cut of the flow of data back to Facebook and it advertising partners. Adblock doesn't say exactly how it manages this but, based on the firm's past record, it should work, for the moment at least.
But that may change. Atlas is going to be central to Facebook's plans to wring every last cent out of its users, and the firm is unlikely to take Adblock's move lying down. ®