Chrome recently announced it would start disarming adblocker addons. The short answer is yes – be concerned about the moves Chrome is making.
There was a time when visiting websites came with a very real risk of getting a virus even without downloading anything on purpose. Sometimes this happened accidentally, and the website was just hosting an ad slot that happened to push out something malicious, and sometimes the website itself was hoping to profit off of a user mistyping another address and landing in the wrong spot. An adblocker can stop some of these attacks.
Additionally, websites that offer downloads may find themselves covered in ads imitating the actual download button. Someone savvy might figure out which button is the real one, but can everyone? An adblocker prevents those ads from loading, and allows a reasonable amount of surety that you’re downloading what you intended to. The website itself can still be tricksy and say it’s giving you something safe when it’s not, but at least it won’t also be showing multiple download buttons leading who knows where when the user clicks them.
We all hear the stories about someone being followed by adverts for something they looked at once. The algorithms determining which ads get served where can be so scarily accurate that it seems like someone must be listening in on your conversations! Cookies from websites can give Google granular information, like if you have pets, how many? How old is each one? Are your searches for grain free dog food? And from there, use those cookies to sell ads targeted at your needs.
Advertising a grain free dog food to someone looking for grain free dog food isn’t such a bad thing, but the problem is that it’s also doing that for, say, unregulated vape pods, or silicone garbage from Temu. Never mind the ads looking to take advantage of addictions or insecurities.
Google having this information doesn’t mean it should be used against you. While you can turn off targeted ads in Google, you can also just stop looking at the ads, full stop, with an adblocker, and remove the random chance of something enticing popping up in a side bar somewhere. The ads can’t start suggesting medical spas in your area if the adblocker stops them before they start.
Who Demands That You Look At Ads?
The question should not be “why are users trying so hard to avoid ads?”, it should be “why are websites showing so many ads?”. Websites are serving an unreal amount of ads. And most don’t get clicked. The energy being consumed to show those ads, whether they succeed or not, is enough to power nearly two thousand houses in the Netherlands over the course of a year. Oftentimes, due to lackluster user safety precautions on the ad vendor’s part, an adblocker is necessary for people with medical conditions such as epilepsy to browse the web. Ads flash, strobe, and jitter as they load, and for Google to say they won’t be doing anything about it or do anything to help out users who might be affected by it is to say ‘ a few pennies’ worth of advertising is worth more than a human life’. Easily confused relatives may be tricked into clicking something they didn’t mean to when trying to google their electric company or schedule a doctor’s visit online, which is actively getting in the way of that relative’s independence. It doesn’t have to be this way, but ad vendors make it so. Adblocker is necessary. If we hadn’t gotten to a point where malicious, annoying, overly intrusive, or spying ads were everywhere in the first place, then adblocker wouldn’t be so widespread. The ad vendor is its own worst nightmare. People will put up with a lot before they start looking for solutions. If adblockers are so ubiquitous that it’s costing Google money, then Google has made a mistake – not the end user just trying to find info or browse the web in peace.