Facebook will circumvent browser ad-blocking tools to push web adverts onto people's screens.
The new policy calls for the social network to serve up ads regardless of the presence of ad-blocking software, and in exchange give users greater control over their ad preferences to cut down on intrusive or annoying ads.
The thinking behind the move, says Facebook, is to eliminate complaints that folks have had about irrelevant or irritating ads and, in the process, take away their reason for wanting ad blockers. The social network notes that, as a free service, it has to use the ads to bring in revenues.
"Some ad blocking companies accept money in exchange for showing ads that they previously blocked – a practice that is at best confusing to people and that reduces the funding needed to support the journalism and other free services that we enjoy on the web," Facebook says, without a hint of irony.
"Facebook is one of those free services, and ads support our mission of giving people the power to share and making the world more open and connected. Rather than paying ad blocking companies to unblock the ads we show – as some of these companies have invited us to do in the past – we're putting control in people's hands with our updated ad preferences and our other advertising controls."
In exchange, Facebook says it will tighten user preferences to control the ads they see. In particular, Facebook says it will allow users to opt out of seeing ads from companies that have put them on their customer lists and also remove certain "interest" topics from the ranks of advertisements the social network serves to them.
This, Facebook hopes, will ultimately result in users having fewer complaints about the ads they will now have no choice about seeing.
Not surprisingly, the developers who make ad-blocking browser tools have taken issue with the move. Adblock Plus head of communications Ben Williams wasted no time in condemning the move as "anti-user."
"Facebook apparently agrees that users have a good reason for using ad-blocking software ... but yet those users shouldn't be given the power to decide what they want to block themselves?" Williams wrote.
"In any case, it's hard to imagine Facebook or the brands that are being advertised on its site getting any sort of value for their ad dollar here: publishers (like Facebook) alienate their audience and advertisers (the brands) allow their cherished brand name to be shoved down people's throats." ®