Ad blocker

Google recently announced Chrome, its popular web browser, won’t allow some customers to use ad blockers in the near future.

During its last earnings report, Google stated that well over 80 percent of its revenue comes from ads. Google is more reliant on ad revenue than Apple is on iPhone revenue. Google also makes the world’s most popular web browser. With more than 90 percent market share, Chrome is a fantastic browser and Google has been able to use it to do many good things.

Security on the web is probably the biggest benefit of using Chrome. If you visit a Google site and it uses the wrong encryption certificate (meaning someone got in the middle and is displaying their own version of Gmail or whatever), Chrome will know because it knows what the correct encryption certificate is for any of the Google properties.

But Google has also used Chrome to advance its own agenda at the expense of users and other browsers.

Have you done a Google search in a browser that isn’t Chrome and noticed the pop-up that says, “This works better in Chrome”? That’s not really true and it’s only there to get people to use Chrome.

Google has a history of making its own services worse on other browsers. YouTube works better in Chrome. Not because other browsers have limitations but because Google purposefully limits YouTube features if you don’t use Chrome.

It makes sense for Google to want you to use Chrome. If you do they know everything about what you do on the internet. That information is valuable to Google for advertising purposes, but also for determining what tool or product on which to focus its resources. For this reason and another recently announced by Google, it may be a good idea to switch away from Chrome.

Google just announced that in the near future, Chrome won’t allow any ad blockers extensions unless you are an enterprise customer. Right now, 2 billion people use Chrome. If only 1 percent of them use an ad blocker, that’s millions of dollars a month that Google loses in ad revenue.

If you’re not currently using an ad blocker I highly recommend you get one. Whenever I have to view websites without an ad blocker I’m amazed at how many ads I see all over each page. It’s to the point that more than 50 percent of the things loaded by a site are ads or trackers. Since I don’t have unlimited data, each of those ads costs me money. My favorite ad blocker is uBlock Origin. It has a whitelist so I can whitelist sites that I want to support and don’t have awful, intrusive ads.

If you want a browser that is well supported with extensions and will continue to let you block ads, then Firefox is your best bet. As a bonus, Mozilla, the company behind Firefox and several other good products, is a nonprofit organization and has made Firefox more privacy oriented over the last couple of years.

Mozilla also makes a browser called ‘Firefox Focus’ for mobile. Firefox Focus is very privacy oriented. It blocks all trackers by default and doesn’t save any browser history. I use that most of the time on mobile and I use the Firefox browser on desktop. But there are plenty of others if you want to try a browser other than Chrome. A good list is just a Google search away.

Jason Ogaard is a software engineer who formerly lived in Hutchinson. He welcomes your technology questions, and he’ll answer them in this place. Please send your questions to technobabble@hutchinsonleader.com.

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