Ethics of AdBlock

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untitled
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby untitled » Tue Jun 14, 2016 2:21 pm UTC

I use Screengrab (the best Firefox screenshot utility, but I am sure other ones work just the same) with Wired. As you noticed, the "annoyance" appears after you scroll - so if you take a full-page screengrab after the page loads, you can read it with a nice cuppa tea.

Static advertising (jpg or, at most, gif) is the only decent form of advertising - both for the site owner (who receives stable income for a predictable commercial endeavor, without "selling out" his users... not to mention they are unblockable) and for the site visitors.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Lucrece » Mon Jun 27, 2016 6:28 am UTC

I detest the new targeted ads on Twitter, they're placed so surreptitiously so as to pretend they're a part of the conversation you're following.

I'm fine with ads on the side of a banner so long as the ad does not force me to interact with it.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Mon Jun 27, 2016 12:07 pm UTC

Lucrece wrote:I detest the new targeted ads on Twitter, they're placed so surreptitiously so as to pretend they're a part of the conversation you're following.
Yet another reason to avoid (soon to be "evade") social media. Is it worse than when they were paying their own customers to shill on you for them?

Jose
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Lucrece » Mon Jun 27, 2016 1:47 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Lucrece wrote:I detest the new targeted ads on Twitter, they're placed so surreptitiously so as to pretend they're a part of the conversation you're following.
Yet another reason to avoid (soon to be "evade") social media. Is it worse than when they were paying their own customers to shill on you for them?

Jose


Well, I largely use it to keep informed on professional developments and publications from the very people working in these fields. The alternative is Reddit subs.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Eternal Density » Thu Aug 04, 2016 4:20 am UTC

Lucrece wrote:I detest the new targeted ads on Twitter, they're placed so surreptitiously so as to pretend they're a part of the conversation you're following.

I'm fine with ads on the side of a banner so long as the ad does not force me to interact with it.
I'm more annoyed by the auto-playing sponsored videos that appear occasionally in my feed. I want to read short bits of text and occasionally see pictures. I never asked for videos, especially videos that aren't from people I follow, and that download and play without user interaction!

As for adblock, I don't have it on my tablet, which is where I do quite a lot of my browsing these days, and I wish I did, because I don't think I saw a single ad which interested me, and I saw a lot which simply annoyed me (and plenty of 'click this if you're gullible' type junk - no, I don't want to be potentially selected to 'win an apple product'). I distrust ads enough that I wouldn't click on them anyway.
I think the internet needs a better revenue model than trying to shove ads in my face. Not to say that there aren't already alternatives, but sadly shoving ads in my face is still the most prevalent because it's kinda easy and people are lazy.

The kinda ironic thing is that the only way to show me ads that would actually interest me would be to massively invade my privacy. Also, it's really dumb how when I first bought an android smartphone, it was very common to see in-app ads to purchase that exact model of smartphone. Yeah, you can tell that I own one... which is exactly why I'm not interested in buying another one, duh!
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby elasto » Thu Aug 04, 2016 6:15 pm UTC

Eternal Density wrote:The kinda ironic thing is that the only way to show me ads that would actually interest me would be to massively invade my privacy.

This is why I'm happy to allow Google to give me targeted ads. I'm confident enough in my own self-control that I am happy to be served ads that might interest me. I then use them as a launching pad to search quality-comparison and price-comparison websites before I make my final choice.

Targeted ads are win-win as far as I am concerned.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Fri Aug 05, 2016 12:27 am UTC

elasto wrote:This is why I'm happy to allow Google to give me targeted ads. I'm confident enough in my own self-control that I am happy to be served ads that might interest me. I then use them as a launching pad to search quality-comparison and price-comparison websites before I make my final choice.
But the ads are not the issue. That's just smoke.

Editorial is the issue. Editorial content can be massaged almost as easily as advertising content, and made to fit the profile they have created of you. You will see the news that the algorithm thinks it best (for itself) that you see. If you're not the customer, you're the product.

There are many many other problems with the constant surveillance that targeted advertising uses; I won't repeat myself here. But the key thing is that advertising is a red herring - a distraction - from the real power against us that is being developed.

Jose
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Cleverbeans » Fri Aug 05, 2016 2:01 am UTC

elasto wrote:I'm confident enough in my own self-control that I am happy to be served ads that might interest me.

Your confidence is misplaced. Ads work that's why it's a trillion dollar industry. Everyone seems to feel they're immune to coercion but that's simply untrue. If you're human you're susceptible. The boiling frog analogy is relevant here. Your sense of self-control is hubris.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Aug 05, 2016 4:29 am UTC

Cleverbeans wrote:
elasto wrote:I'm confident enough in my own self-control that I am happy to be served ads that might interest me.

Your confidence is misplaced. Ads work that's why it's a trillion dollar industry. Everyone seems to feel they're immune to coercion but that's simply untrue. If you're human you're susceptible. The boiling frog analogy is relevant here. Your sense of self-control is hubris.


The actual boiling frog thing is false, though.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby commodorejohn » Fri Aug 05, 2016 6:33 am UTC

Cleverbeans wrote:Ads work that's why it's a trillion dollar industry.

Not that I'm arguing for ads (quite the opposite,) but this statement implies that people only pay serious money for solutions that are effective, which is as close to demonstrably false as anything in the study of human behavior.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Eternal Density » Fri Aug 05, 2016 7:44 am UTC

ucim wrote:Editorial is the issue. Editorial content can be massaged almost as easily as advertising content, and made to fit the profile they have created of you. You will see the news that the algorithm thinks it best (for itself) that you see. If you're not the customer, you're the product.

There are many many other problems with the constant surveillance that targeted advertising uses; I won't repeat myself here. But the key thing is that advertising is a red herring - a distraction - from the real power against us that is being developed.

Jose

Don't you mean power over us? It's not about enmity. It's about control, and shaping.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby elasto » Fri Aug 05, 2016 10:31 am UTC

Cleverbeans wrote:Your confidence is misplaced. Ads work that's why it's a trillion dollar industry. Everyone seems to feel they're immune to coercion but that's simply untrue. If you're human you're susceptible. The boiling frog analogy is relevant here. Your sense of self-control is hubris.

That's like saying:
- everyone feels they're an above average driver
- statistically that's a nonsense
- you feel you're an above average driver
- your confidence in your driving ability is hubris

I'm sorry, some people think they're above average drivers and they're right.

Your confidence in my lack of abilities is itself hubris :p

One mistake you're making is to think that if I see an ad for something and then buy it, that represents 'coercion'. Why can't that process itself also be 'win-win'? They made an extra sale because they made an ad, and I got something that improved my quality of life. The entire foundation of economics is that people can trade and both improve their position...

Sure, some people impulse buy crap they don't need, stuff that doesn't improve their quality of life, so that represents a 'win-lose', just like some people are below average drivers - but if I rarely actually end up buying the thing in the ad (because I always use it as a kicking off point to research rival brands and rival price-points), in what sense was I 'coerced'?

It's like saying if I was quite happy watching tv, and then my girlfriend walks up with no clothes on and whispers sweet nothings in my ear, and we end up having sex, that she 'coerced me'. In one sense it's true, but who cares..?

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:34 am UTC

elasto wrote:I'm sorry, some people think they're above average drivers and they're right.
Above average is meaningless as a metric. Driving is a skill, and the only way be good is to practice, and to practice specific skills that most people don't practice because it's difficult. You will only know how good you are when somethings actually tests you. So most people are ignorant of their actual skill level. Driving defensively is an acknowledgement that you aren't as skilled as you may think.

Advertising per se isn't the problem. Amazon can show me as many pretty pictures of things I'm not going to buy as it pleases. The problem is in how Amazon knows what pictures to show me. But if Amazon knows, who else does. It's kind of like opening your door to a salesman and having the roach hiding on his shoe come into your house.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby elasto » Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:50 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:Above average is meaningless as a metric.

It's definitely not meaningless. For example, some people would demand driverless cars are perfect before they get rolled out. Actually, the most important metric is if they above average. If they are, roads deaths will reduce. If they aren't, road deaths will increase.

Driving defensively is an acknowledgement that you aren't as skilled as you may think.

I think that's backwards. Driving defensively is an acknowledgement that others aren't as skilled as they think: You drive under the assumption that someone might suddenly slam on their brakes or run out into the road or whatever.

Advertising per se isn't the problem. Amazon can show me as many pretty pictures of things I'm not going to buy as it pleases. The problem is in how Amazon knows what pictures to show me. But if Amazon knows, who else does. It's kind of like opening your door to a salesman and having the roach hiding on his shoe come into your house.

That's mostly a matter for data protection laws. Where I live, so long as you tick the right boxes the salesman would get fined for bringing in roaches on his shoes.

But it's a good rule of thumb to assume that everything you do is known to everyone, unless you have taken extraordinary protections. The mistake is in thinking that, if Google isn't serving you targeted ads, that it doesn't know loads about you. It knows either way. At least by allowing it to serve me targeted ads I get to benefit from its knowledge too!

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Fri Aug 05, 2016 1:15 pm UTC

elasto wrote:It's definitely not meaningless. For example, some people would demand driverless cars are perfect before they get rolled out. Actually, the most important metric is if they above average. If they are, roads deaths will reduce. If they aren't, road deaths will increase.
Average of what?
elasto wrote:I think that's backwards. Driving defensively is an acknowledgement that others aren't as skilled as they think: You drive under the assumption that someone might suddenly slam on their brakes or run out into the road or whatever.
Skill has very little to do with it on a daily basis. Driving defensively is as you state it, is predicated on the idea that things happen, not that the other driver is a dolt. They happen despite that.
elasto wrote:That's mostly a matter for data protection laws. Where I live, so long as you tick the right boxes the salesman would get fined for bringing in roaches on his shoes.
You assume you would know. And you might not. Which is the point. And the law works only if it can find and identify bad actors. Having said that I tried ad blockers and didn't care for them. But there are a lot of things on the web I will never see and a lot of apps I will never try because I don't want to risk exposure to things I can't control.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Fri Aug 05, 2016 1:38 pm UTC

Eternal Density wrote:Don't you mean power over us? It's not about enmity. It's about control, and shaping.
Yeah, I guess. But the relationship is still adversarial. Unlike other things that have power over me, I don't want this power deployed over me. In that sense it's against me.

elasto wrote:One mistake you're making is to think that if I see an ad for something and then buy it, that represents 'coercion'. Why can't that process itself also be 'win-win'? They made an extra sale because they made an ad, and I got something that improved my quality of life. The entire foundation of economics is that people can trade and both improve their position...
But you didn't buy "a" thing. You bought that thing - that particular brand of thing as opposed to the other brand that is actually better, and that you were going to buy tomorrow when you got to the store, but now won't because this ad was appealing to you (for any number of reasons) and the algorithm knew it.

But again, that's just a distraction. The problem is the influence on editorial content. Thems that control what you read control what you think.

Jose
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby elasto » Fri Aug 05, 2016 2:39 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Average of what?

You're being overly pedantic. Obviously 'skill' is a fuzzy term with many different aspects. That doesn't mean it doesn't have any measurable aspects, especially in the aggregate.

Skill has very little to do with it on a daily basis.

If that were true, how do you explain how driving drunk, tired or distracted increases the risk of an accident? Doing so reduces your skill levels - from reaction speed to decision making ability.

You assume you would know. And you might not. Which is the point.

Well obviously people could be acting illegally. Likewise I lock my windows even though robbing my house is illegal. But mostly I rely on security through mundanity. I couldn't care less if an online shop knows what soap brand I prefer.

ucim wrote:But you didn't buy "a" thing. You bought that thing - that particular brand of thing as opposed to the other brand that is actually better, and that you were going to buy tomorrow when you got to the store, but now won't because this ad was appealing to you (for any number of reasons) and the algorithm knew it.

You must have missed the part where I said I perform quality-comparison and price-comparison before buying anything in an advert.

I'm not sure I've ever bought the make and model suggested to me in an advert, because there's always something better for the same price or cheaper for the same quality. However, I am grateful for the nudge that gets me started.

But again, that's just a distraction. The problem is the influence on editorial content. Thems that control what you read control what you think.

That's a genuine concern, but the answer there is to use trusted reviewers before buying anything - including both expert (eg. Which) and mass-market reviews (eg. Amazon's star ratings)

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Fri Aug 05, 2016 3:09 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
But again, that's just a distraction. The problem is the influence on editorial content. Thems that control what you read control what you think.
That's a genuine concern, but the answer there is to use trusted reviewers before buying anything - including both expert (eg. Which) and mass-market reviews (eg. Amazon's star ratings)
Again, it has nothing to do with commerce. There is more to editorial than product reviews. If the news you read is rewritten to appeal to your personal profile, phrased to hit your hot buttons, to generate the most response from you, to act as ever-more-effective clickbait, that is the problem that is being totally missed while people argue about targeted ads. News outlets may want nothing more than newspaper sales, website hits, and retweets of their stories, but the side effects of this is arguably a large part of what put our (US) presidential race in the horrifying state it's presently in.

The adverse effects of continued massive intrusive surveillance under the guise of "making advertising relevant" will only get worse.

Jose
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Fri Aug 05, 2016 5:07 pm UTC

elasto wrote:You're being overly pedantic. Obviously 'skill' is a fuzzy term with many different aspects.
I get told that a lot. :lol: However it is precisely the point, that the term skill is fuzzy, and that the term average is even worse.
elasto wrote:If that were true, how do you explain how driving drunk, tired or distracted increases the risk of an accident? Doing so reduces your skill levels - from reaction speed to decision making ability.
Those things are an impairments to skill. But if best skilled do those things they are still impaired. The best example to illustrate the point is anti lock brakes. In the era before anti lock brakes most people were at least dimly aware that if you pumped you brakes during a panic stop, you had a reasonable chance of not sliding and having a shorter stopping distance. It turns out that the only way to develop that skill was to practice. Since people can't or won't, they developed anti lock brakes. Skill is created by practice. I would be happy to argue this elsewhere, but this isn't a good place,
elasto wrote:I couldn't care less if an online shop knows what soap brand I prefer.
I don't care if they if they know what kind of condoms I use. But I'm not worried about that. It's what else they can infer from where I go and what I do. but, different people have different fears, so I'm not an absolutist.
elasto wrote:That's a genuine concern, but the answer there is to use trusted reviewers before buying anything
You must have a lot of free time to vet trusted reviewers. :D I find that web ads are always one step back, they are generally selling something that I have already bought,or something that I have already looked at.
If the news you read is rewritten to appeal to your personal profile, phrased to hit your hot buttons, to generate the most response from you, to act as ever-more-effective clickbait, that is the problem that is being totally missed while people argue about targeted ads.
That isn't new, editorial control has always been subject to that. They are just better at it today. And since you can't go see first hand there isn't much you can do, but read to the extremes(liberal to conservative so to speak) and look for a source with no dog in the fight. I use the BBC.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby elasto » Fri Aug 05, 2016 6:07 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:However it is precisely the point, that the term skill is fuzzy, and that the term average is even worse.

Look at it this way, if driving skills were impossible to quantify, computers could never learn to drive. But they can. In addition, computer driving skills could never be tested in the lab before the computers were allowed on the road, but they are.

You can quantify reaction time, you can quantify vision distance, you can quantify knowledge and application of stopping distances, you can set up virtual scenarios where a child runs into the road and see how many times they get hit etc. etc.

Not sure it's worth this level of pedantry given that you're arguing against an analogy I made that actually has no bearing on this thread!
elasto wrote:Skill is created by practice.

Who ever claimed anything different? How does that disagree with my assertion that some people are more skilled at driving than others, and that most people think they are above average drivers?

If I were to claim that Federer is an above average tennis player, would you be saying 'hold on, most tennis skills are acquired through practice rather than being innate, and, anyhow, skill at tennis is a poorly defined term.' ...So what?

You must have a lot of free time to vet trusted reviewers. :D

Not really. It's very easy to find sources with a good reputation for impartiality which they have a huge vested interest in maintaining.

If they give it a gold star award, and the Amazon rating is 4+ too, while you can't guarantee there isn't something better out there, you can virtually guarantee you haven't chosen a lemon, which is really the only bad outcome.
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Fri Aug 05, 2016 6:26 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
ucim wrote:If the news you read is rewritten to appeal to your personal profile, phrased to hit your hot buttons, [...] that is the problem...
That isn't new, editorial control has always been subject to that. They are just better at it today.
The "better" that they are at it is new; it's a result of the profiles they have built on individuals, and the ability to target individuals with editorial content. This did not exist before. The closest it ever came was regional editions of a newspaper, or perhaps a real estate broker showing you houses based on your skin color and present address.

This kind of targeting is as new as the commercial internet. It's a game changer.

Jose
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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby elasto » Fri Aug 05, 2016 6:37 pm UTC

It's certainly true that, say, peoples' Facebook feeds can be turned into echo chambers that have a perfect resonance with their inbuilt biases and beliefs. So a right-wing reader sees nothing but stories about how Obama is coming for their guns, and a left-wing reader sees nothing but stories about black lives mattering (or whatever).

That's a worry, but it's an entirely separate issue to targeted advertising I'd argue.

If I believe that it's moral for me to look at advertising in order to fund websites, then the question becomes: Do I want advertising for stuff that is irrelevant to me, or for stuff that stands a good chance of improving my quality of life?

If you think that the very concept of advertising itself is immoral, that it can't ever be win-win but only ever exploitative, then I guess you have to make different choices - not just on the web but everywhere.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Fri Aug 05, 2016 9:32 pm UTC

ucim wrote:The "better" that they are at it is new; it's a result of the profiles they have built on individuals, and the ability to target individuals with editorial content. This did not exist before. The closest it ever came was regional editions of a newspaper, or perhaps a real estate broker showing you houses based on your skin color and present address.

This kind of targeting is as new as the commercial internet. It's a game changer.
I agree. Polling, tracking, focus groups and on and on. They've been moving in this direction since the invention of Hollerith cards in the late 1800's. They just never had the tools until today.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Eternal Density » Sat Aug 06, 2016 12:43 am UTC

ucim wrote:
Eternal Density wrote:Don't you mean power over us? It's not about enmity. It's about control, and shaping.
Yeah, I guess. But the relationship is still adversarial. Unlike other things that have power over me, I don't want this power deployed over me. In that sense it's against me.

Jose

Oh, very good point!


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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Sat Aug 06, 2016 1:23 am UTC

elasto wrote:It's certainly true that, say, peoples' Facebook feeds can be turned into echo chambers...
That's not what I'm referring to. Let me cook up an (admittedly cartoonish) example.

The Mustard Gazette is a news delivery entity - what we used to know as a newspaper, but it has a website, apps, and all the acoutriments of what now passes for a modern "journalistic" enterprise. It is not in business to inform, or to educate, or to guide people. It's in business to make money, just like newspapers were in the old days. It makes most of its money by selling ads on their website, and to make the most money it needs lots of people to keep coming back to read its articles. In the old days, good old sensationalism worked: "If it bleeds, it leads." It still works, but more subtlely.

Some piece of news comes out: it turns out that the president's wife was once an illegal alien who did nude modeling. So, the journalists do the research, discover some interesting tidbits, some interesting background, do some analysis, and write "an" article. But it's umwelt time; the article is actually done in a software-rewritable way (of which there are several, the details of which are not really relevant).

Fred, whose profile indicates that he's influenced by emotional appeals, has little tolerance for analysis, likes primary colors, eats beef, owns three guns, and has only a high school education, clicks on the news feed and sees:
"Shocking nude photo shoot in the Oval Office!"
The article has lots of pictures and speculates about the West Wing being turned into a bordello.

Audrey's profile indicates that she's an engineer by trade, an artist by avocation, has done archery but not recently, enjoys the culinary arts, and is drawn to pastels, but most importantly, immigrated from Norway. She sees (in the exact same space) the headline:
"Evidence shows president may have cheated on federal work visa program"
The article has one photo, of the form in question, a graphic timeline of events, mentions the photo shoot (which took place in Serbia, before she was married but while she was dating the man who is now in the White House), and has a sidebar about the perception of nudity in various relevant countries and eras.

Intrigued, Audrey sends the link to her friend George, whose profile indicates that he lives in DC, is vegetarian, gay, and athiest. He never sees the headline in the link, but the article has the headline:
Sex and the White House - the end of basic human decency?
It deals with the impact of objectifying women in the White House, and the reaction of several Senators railing against the destruction of family values.

It's the same article, being rewritten by software for the individual that is receiving it.

In each case, the article is written in a manner that will most likely get the recipient to click some more. But in doing so, as a side effect, it polarizes the perception of the event. This polarization alters the political backdrop and paves the way for some really dangerous hate mongers to succeed politically where they would not have otherwise had a chance.

Now, this example is a cartoon, but the rewriting can be as subtle as active vs. passive tenses, the inclusion or omission of weasel words, substituting paraphrases for quotes... whatever it takes to get people to respond the way the website is looking for.

This massive surveillance by advertisers, and the subsequent misuse of the data, is extremely dangerous; this is not to be minimized by talking about targeted advertising. Stuff may be customized for you, but it is not for your benefit. It is for the benefit of the advertisers and the content providers, not you. And the fallout is extremely toxic and long lived.

elasto wrote:If I believe that it's moral for me to look at advertising in order to fund websites...
... then you can go ahead and look at advertisements. But by supporting a model that sees theft of privacy as a moral right, you are backing a huge and insidious transfer of autonomy away from the individual and towards the data corporations.

elasto wrote:If you think that the very concept of advertising itself is immoral...
I don't. What is Wrong is the concept that theft of privacy is a moral right of content providers. These individual transactions, each small in itself, ultimately pollute the information space of the minds of the citizens, using the internet as the medium. It's a form of pollution even more insidious than lead paint or tailpipe emissions. It strikes at the very heart of our ability to make our own decisions in anything but a nominal manner.

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Please help addams if you can. She needs all of us.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Sat Aug 06, 2016 1:26 pm UTC

No one who is legitimate is stealing anything. Anymore than a trapper is stealing anything from a gopher when he sets a trap. The trapper bets that the gophers need for the tease will outweigh his sense of self preservation. If your privacy is important to you, avoid the web, it doesn't exist there. Don't stick your head in the trap.

However it doesn't matter, if you own a phone, a television, cable, a bank account, credit cards, a SSN and on and on and on, you are snarled in a web you don't see. It really doesn't matter if you are connected or not, because enough are, that they get you by the crumbs you leave as you live your daily life. There is no real privacy except that which exists between your ears, and they are nibbling away at that.

Had you lived in a small village, hamlet or whatever preindustrial social group that has ever existed, you would have had even less privacy than you do now. The idea of privacy is relatively new. The major difference is that in that bygone era you could walk away and become anonymous and now you can't, at least not easily.

In terms of rewriting content to trip your triggers, work harder. If it's worth it to you. It should be easy to write software which unwrites text and picks out the relevant ideas and strips out the bias. It could even pick out the point of view they are trying to use to appeal to you. But that isn't what people want, is it? The phrase "if it bleeds it leads" reflects what people want. The more blood the better. If they don't talk about that, they'll find something else. FAID exists for that very reason.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Sat Aug 06, 2016 1:52 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:No one who is legitimate is stealing anything. [...]

However it doesn't matter, if you own a phone, a television, cable, a bank account, credit cards, a SSN and on and on and on, you are snarled in a web you don't see. It really doesn't matter if you are connected or not, because enough are, that they get you by the crumbs you leave as you live your daily life. There is no real privacy except that which exists between your ears, and they are nibbling away at that.

Yes. There's a word for that. "Theft".

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Please help addams if you can. She needs all of us.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Sat Aug 06, 2016 2:28 pm UTC

:lol: I'll give you this, you're consistent. Myself, I've offered fealty to Google and Amazon, my feudal Lords.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:13 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
elasto wrote:It's certainly true that, say, peoples' Facebook feeds can be turned into echo chambers...
That's not what I'm referring to. Let me cook up an (admittedly cartoonish) example.

The Mustard Gazette is a news delivery entity - what we used to know as a newspaper, but it has a website, apps, and all the acoutriments of what now passes for a modern "journalistic" enterprise.
Spoiler:
It is not in business to inform, or to educate, or to guide people. It's in business to make money, just like newspapers were in the old days. It makes most of its money by selling ads on their website, and to make the most money it needs lots of people to keep coming back to read its articles. In the old days, good old sensationalism worked: "If it bleeds, it leads." It still works, but more subtlely.

Some piece of news comes out: it turns out that the president's wife was once an illegal alien who did nude modeling. So, the journalists do the research, discover some interesting tidbits, some interesting background, do some analysis, and write "an" article. But it's umwelt time; the article is actually done in a software-rewritable way (of which there are several, the details of which are not really relevant).

Fred, whose profile indicates that he's influenced by emotional appeals, has little tolerance for analysis, likes primary colors, eats beef, owns three guns, and has only a high school education, clicks on the news feed and sees:
"Shocking nude photo shoot in the Oval Office!"
The article has lots of pictures and speculates about the West Wing being turned into a bordello.

Audrey's profile indicates that she's an engineer by trade, an artist by avocation, has done archery but not recently, enjoys the culinary arts, and is drawn to pastels, but most importantly, immigrated from Norway. She sees (in the exact same space) the headline:
"Evidence shows president may have cheated on federal work visa program"
The article has one photo, of the form in question, a graphic timeline of events, mentions the photo shoot (which took place in Serbia, before she was married but while she was dating the man who is now in the White House), and has a sidebar about the perception of nudity in various relevant countries and eras.

Intrigued, Audrey sends the link to her friend George, whose profile indicates that he lives in DC, is vegetarian, gay, and athiest. He never sees the headline in the link, but the article has the headline:
Sex and the White House - the end of basic human decency?
It deals with the impact of objectifying women in the White House, and the reaction of several Senators railing against the destruction of family values.

It's the same article, being rewritten by software for the individual that is receiving it.

In each case, the article is written in a manner that will most likely get the recipient to click some more. But in doing so, as a side effect, it polarizes the perception of the event. This polarization alters the political backdrop and paves the way for some really dangerous hate mongers to succeed politically where they would not have otherwise had a chance.


Now, this example is a cartoon, but the rewriting can be as subtle as active vs. passive tenses, the inclusion or omission of weasel words, substituting paraphrases for quotes... whatever it takes to get people to respond the way the website is looking for.


And twenty years ago, the Mustard Gazette would have had three papers, the Mustard Times, the Mustard Post and the Mustard Inquirer that would have printed those same three stories to appeal to those different audiences. And those newspapers would sell advertising space designed to appeal to those audiences...

Old paper newspapers honestly probably have at least as many ads as their web equivalents. I just checked with a local paper from my city... in the first 24 pages (the entire "News", "World News" and "Editorial" sections), there were the equivalent of 14 full pages of advertisements.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:25 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:And twenty years ago, the Mustard Gazette would have had three papers, the Mustard Times, the Mustard Post and the Mustard Inquirer that would have printed those same three stories to appeal to those different audiences. And those newspapers would sell advertising space designed to appeal to those audiences...
Again advertising is not important. It's a red herring. The point is that twenty years ago, you could choose which newspaper to buy, and thus which articles to read. The articles were tailored for the newspaper.

Twenty years from now, they will be tailored for you, individually, without your (easy) ability to choose which version is presented to you.

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Please help addams if you can. She needs all of us.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:29 pm UTC

Twenty years from now, I'm not sure there will be newspapers.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:32 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Twenty years from now, I'm not sure there will be newspapers.
But there will be news. And there will be a delivery mechanism.

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Please help addams if you can. She needs all of us.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:36 pm UTC

Sure. There always is. And to some extent, news has always been tailored to the sensibilities of recipients.

If choosing which version to read is your quibble, it is far easier for me to access different perspectives now, thanks to online news, than it was in the print only era. This trend seems pretty likely to continue.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:47 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:And twenty years ago, the Mustard Gazette would have had three papers, the Mustard Times, the Mustard Post and the Mustard Inquirer that would have printed those same three stories to appeal to those different audiences. And those newspapers would sell advertising space designed to appeal to those audiences...


Again advertising is not important. It's a red herring. The point is that twenty years ago, you could choose which newspaper to buy, and thus which articles to read. The articles were tailored for the newspaper.

Twenty years from now, they will be tailored for you, individually, without your (easy) ability to choose which version is presented to you.


More likely, instead of picking between newspapers, you'll pick between news aggregators that you'll be able to customize to your liking.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Mon Aug 08, 2016 8:28 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:More likely, instead of picking between newspapers, you'll pick between news aggregators that you'll be able to customize to your liking.
Tyndmyr wrote:If choosing which version to read is your quibble, it is far easier for me to access different perspectives now, thanks to online news, than it was in the print only era. This trend seems pretty likely to continue.
That's the utopian vision. But as always, the object of journalism is to sell advertising, whether it be through purchase of dead tree products, or clicks on links, or whatever comes in the future. In the past, we knew more about the newspapers than they knew about us. We were the ones that could pick and choose. This has been turned upside down.

Sure, we can pick an aggregator, just like we can pick a webcomic. But we can't pick which frame we see, or which frame our friend sees when we send them a link. Yeah, on xkcd we had fun with it and mapped out all (?) the versions, but in that case it was done to make a point. In real life, it will be subtle, slow to appear, and we'll get used to it as it comes out, just like we are used to the google bubble. And we'll just surrender, because it's too hard to fight. Some won't even see it as a Bad Thing. (How many people here have even disabled web scripts?) A little candy goes a long way towards appeasement.

If AdBlock is unethical, what about EdBlock (a mythical add-on that undoes editorial customization and delivers the raw codes)? Wouldn't that be even more unethical?

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Please help addams if you can. She needs all of us.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:36 pm UTC

Knowledge is not the enemy.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:53 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Knowledge is not the enemy.
Depends on the specific knowledge we're talking about. More specifically, who has this knowledge, and how they got it.

Knowledge about my personal life, my emotional makeup, my health weaknesses (and strengths), who my (powerful?) friends are, or whether I even have any, how good I am at negotiating salary, and many other things about me are not the business of any commercial entity. Granted, the ordinary course of life reveals some of these things piecemeal to some entities, and this was true since there were people. What has changed is the wholesale aggregation of this kind of information and its sale to anybody with the pockets for it.

Do you not see this changes the entire game? Never mind whether it is for Good or for Evil - if you don't see that in this case the quantitative change effects (causes) a qualitative change, then there's no point in going further.

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Please help addams if you can. She needs all of us.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 08, 2016 10:03 pm UTC

Knowledge is power, yes.

Newspaper companies are not exactly burdened down with excessive power. They're mostly just worried about keeping the lights on. If you're worried about an entity becoming all powerful, it probably shouldn't be them.

If you believe that a commercial entity knowing things about you, and being more powerful than you is horrible, I have really bad news about the world you already live in. You're an extremely tiny fish, and the newspaper is at best, a slightly bigger fish, in a very, very large ocean with vastly more potent things in it.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby morriswalters » Mon Aug 08, 2016 10:46 pm UTC

Whatever it is you think you are losing, you've probably already lost it. You can't go backwards. And the government won't deal with it. They may pay lip service to the idea, but since they generate more valuable info than almost anyone else, they would be the biggest losers. Europeans may think that they have the upper hand on the issue, but the problem is global, and while they might be able to force Google to forget you in Europe, but I don't think they have worldwide reach or power. I suspect, without being able to offer any evidence, that once computers are developed, this type of thing is inevitable. If it really bothers you then don't have any social media presence. Don't post on forums and don't do anything that exposes anything about you. Oh yes, toss your phone(if you have one). It won't stop them from tracking you, unless you live in a cave as a hunter gatherer, nothing will. But it will limit the damage, if damage is what it is. As I said, I have already picked sides.

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Re: Ethics of AdBlock

Postby ucim » Mon Aug 08, 2016 11:55 pm UTC

All the above is why I have no problem with the ethics of avoiding tracking and advertising using software such as AdBlock. I would equally have no ethical problem with avoiding (future) editorial rewriting (if it's even possible to avoid) using something like EdBlock, should it come to that.

Winning a fight does not make the victor right.

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Please help addams if you can. She needs all of us.


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