MIT Technology Review has a profile of Wladimir Palant, the creator of Adblock Plus, that highlights some of the less-than-ethical practices that Palant and his company, Eyeo, engage in.
To hear Palant talk about the [“Acceptable Ads”] whitelist feature today, Acceptable Ads has both an underlying ethical premise (online journalism and blogging rely on ads to stay afloat) and a pragmatic one (Eyeo and Adblock Plus need to pay people like The Gatekeeper to determine whether ads are obnoxious or not). Palant had toyed with other ways to run Adblock Plus—including micro donations and asking users to disable the extension for certain websites—but ultimately decided to charge large organizations to be part of Acceptable Ads, while allowing around 700 others, by the latest count, into the program for free. “I realized that finding that middle ground between publishers and users would require resources a hobby product could not afford,” says Palant. If Eyeo didn’t charge larger companies, it wouldn’t be able to offer the Acceptable Ads program at all—removing any incentive for online ads to become less intrusive.
But the appearance of a conflict of interest, and critical lapses in transparency—like not initially announcing that Adblock Plus was charging millions of dollars to some companies in the Acceptable Ads program—led some users to feel betrayed, and some publishers to compare Eyeo’s business model to a mafia protection scheme.
Stuff like this led me to switch to uBlock Origin (Chrome and Firefox). uBlock uses the same block lists as Adblock Plus — along with additional options that Adblock doesn’t offer — and is faster/less resource-intensive to boot.
I removed Adblock Plus from all my computers a few months ago and have enjoyed ad free browsing without issue ever since. I’m glad I made the switch.