Now all take a moment to consider how Google opted for a different path. It paid to get the digital equivalent of a hall pass. Yes, that's right, when the ad blockers came knocking on their door with the protection racket spiel about how they had a really nice business and it would be shame to see it go up in flames, it paid up. That's all ad blocking is. In the early days the coders could lay some claim to allowing people to have a choice over seeing ads or not. The moment brands could pay to circumvent this and become an approved advertiser, the game moved on from coding to a protection racket. Even the former Culture Secretary called them out with exactly those words.
Like any protection racketeer would, the ad-blocking industry is saying that this is the kind of thing they expect and they can normally get around attempts by a media owner to prevent them from blocking adds on their sites. So, ladies and gentlemen, we have the start of an ad-blocking arms race.
On the one side we have media owners who have struck a very clear bargain with the public to typically get free content in return for accepting ads. On the other, we have a bunch of digital bandits who want to let people consume all that content yet not have to keep to their side of the unwritten bargain and allow ads to accompany the content.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the latter were noble outlaws fighting against an oppressive system of pop-ups, but by and large, the major sites all advertise responsibly and any outlaws who takes money not to rob a particular homesteader's ranch for a fee instantly turn themselves into protection racketeers.
So far the Facebook announcement only covers desktop, leaving mobile unaffected -- but considering the mobile-first nature of media today, one can imagine Facebook will be looking to extend its self-protection stance to the mobile web as well in due course. The desktop ad blocking arms race will then get really feisty as it goes mobile. For now, all media owners should take their hat off to Facebook for having the bottle to fight the good fight.