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The Ad Blocking Controversy, Explained

The controversy touches on something near and dear to every online writer's heart -- whether we can make money publishing on the Internet.

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The Internet is suddenly awash in commentary about ad blocking and ad blockers. The genre reached its apogee in Casey Johnston’s ad blocker thinkpiece for The Awl — which was, in turn, inspired by things like Marco Arment’s commentary on the ethics of ad blocking, Matthew Ingram’s publisher-blaming commentary, an ongoing series of articles on the subject by Jean Louis-Gassé that has been published at his Monday Note blog for months now, Ben Thompson’s “Why Web Pages Suck,” and Nilay Patel’s “The Mobile Web Sucks” (and even more ominously “Welcome to Hell”).

The dispute is about software. Specifically about “extensions” that can be added to (some) Web browsers and about JavaScript that runs as part of (some) Web ads. It’s a discussion that’s been running for a long time, but has kicked into overdrive because of Apple’s release of a new operating system for iPhones and the launch of new services like Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News. And it’s something you’ll be hearing more and more about if you read things online.

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