The ad blocking arms race
Hate seeing ads? Use an ad blocker? You’re not alone. A majority of web surfers around the world do. Meanwhile, more and more websites are using software that detects ad blockers. But you have noticed that already, haven’t you? It stops your viewing the item you wanted to see unless you disable the ad blocker or choose another option. See this article about the robust response from Facebook. Facebook, like many other sites, depends on revenues from ads. They’re not about to let users skip the ads. Some of the alternatives involve subscriptions. You might have to pay for those, to replace the lost ad revenue. Or the subs might be another means of selling your browsing behavior to others sites, despite the ad blocking. The bottom line? It’s not cost-free to run websites or generate content to put up there.
Many people are cutting the cable or satellite link for programming in favor of streaming video from an increasing variety of providers. Amazon is creating programs now. Netflix has for some time already. Eventually—but perhaps not for a while, if the ad blocking arms race is won by the blockers, more and more sites will force you to pay in some way for avoiding ads. On the other hand, if the sites win, web surfing should remain mostly free.
Fake News—What’s In Store?
Fake news isn’t new; it just became the most recent obsessive topic of media attention. Snopes.com has been around for years, all in response to fake stories on the web. In 2016, it got out of hand. Conspiracy theorists and their adherents have never had a problem with fake news—they thrive on it. The problem became acute when less skeptical regular folks were taken in by it. That happened with its expansion to more traditional outlets, including Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps a modification to the old consumer caveat is in order, “if something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.” The new caveat might go something like this, “if something sounds too ridiculous to be true, it probably isn’t.” Or more to the point perhaps, “if something seems to confirm your worst fears or biases, it probably isn’t true.”
Fake news exists most often for one of two reasons: 1) sway someone’s opinion about supposed facts or, 2) make money for the purveyor of it. With Twitter, fake news can go viral for other reasons, as this New York Times study of the “paid protestors” story illustrates. Google and Facebook depend on ad revenue for their existence (and their immense profits). They have been blissfully uncaring about fake news that generated that revenue until it became an issue during the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. Reluctantly, they’ve now recognized it and are making some efforts to curtail it by nixing the profits of the fake news providers. [BTW, for those that don’t believe Huffington Post, this item seems legitimate.] That probably won’t do anything to deter the conspiracy or nut case sites; more than likely, it will embolden them. All the more reason to consider the revised caveat. It’s wise to avoid retweeting or sharing stuff that might come back to embarrass you when people point out its falsity. It really is up to you, because attempts to stop it are doomed to failure for many reasons, as this CNN story explains.
Here’s a link to one supermarket price label. Search the web and you’ll find many more instances of this peculiar item. Apparently, according to one site we found, the seeds in bananas are called bones. Seriously? But wait, bananas have no seeds do they? Well no, not the ones sold in stores. That’s because commercially grown bananas offered for sale in stores are grown from cuttings, not seeds. They haven’t been sold with seeds for many decades in developed countries. While it’s typically an option to buy seedless grapes or ones with seeds, we’ve never peeled a banana anywhere in America that had seeds. Nor have we seen the signs for “boneless bananas.” If you have, now you know why.