BLOCKING ADS ON THE INTERNET INVITES CENSORSHIP, CHARGE WEBSITE SUBSCRIBERS A FEE FOR AD-FREE CONTENT

 

It is hard to deny that most users of the internet are frustrated with the seemingly endless ads that pop up continuously, often delaying, and sometimes totally disrupting the purview of the subject matter. Because of this, it is to be expected that entrepreneurs would design software that permits users to block unwanted ads; enter  Adblock Plus, the most popular ad-blocking software. According to an article in the New York Times, “adoption [of such services] are now rising steeply, at a pace that some in the ad industry say could prove catastrophic for the economic structure underlying the web.” Mindful of such implications, larger companies such as Google, have started to pay such companies to permit their ads to pass through the seines or filters of the software. Critics say the internet is funded by ads and it is the price we pay for free surfing- it is kind of an implied contract between the users and servers (never mind the fact that the internet was initially provided free only to have software and server companies taint it with money-grabbing monopolistic licensing agreements- e.g., Microsoft et al.). The ad-blocking crew says they are willing to compromise by permitting users to design their filters, and in that way, the net would be governed by “community standards” without completely blocking all ads- a sort of self-censorship. But it seems to us that they cannot have it both ways—on the one hand, allow users to block ads, but not those by wealthy companies—it smacks of purchased censorship—a concept already in place on social websites like Facebook. These sites not only centrally control the content of the billions of posts; they decide which ads can appear—ad-blocking entities cannot stop any of this from occurring on private websites. The question then becomes, should internet users be permitted to browse the net without ads, only if they are willing to pay a monthly fee. This ultimately will be the case if ads are removed from the internet. For too long, the public has been coddled with free access; if they do not want ads, they must pay to have them removed. The internet is not going away soon; great good has come from unlimited access to fresh and old ideas made available from the service. Ad-free Internet usage will be best served when people start paying for it. Websites should be encouraged to charge their subscribers a fee for access to pages with zero ads.

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