The ethics of Adblocking

While I would not imagine this is such a heated debate as it once was but I am surprised that ad blocking is still legal in countries. For those that may not know but adverts pay for a lot of websites to stay online (and not even to profit, I would imagine most sites do not even break even) and ad blocking is a method of changing your browser (or host files etc) so that adverts on these websites are removed so that the end-user can not see them.

Now I can understand why some people may block adverts – there are often annoying flash banners that do not fit the design of the website but at the end of the day, they are there to pay for the website itself. I am quite sure a couple of people reading this will think nothing of it but just imagine that you had a billboard outside of your house on a major road and that every time someone sees it that you earn a couple of pennies that over the day all adds up.

Picture it now that it is possible for some people in their cars to “block” seeing that billboard at all which means you do not get those pennies and that the income from that billboard is what keeps you in the house that you live in – that’s the same logic with people running websites with their web hosts and to some people their very own houses!

I know we all pay for data transfer and not everyone wants to waste it on viewing adverts but so does the website you are viewing from as they got their bills to pay and hell people even put up with adverts on live TV that they pay for but a few adverts on a website they go out of their way to block them and are even vocal in doing so.

At the end of the day removing adverts from a website is stealing their data transfer and while you can claim they have it open for all to view and should be happy that people are seeing their content – well you would not walk into a shop and steal a few pennies from a donation box just because you want some money and sure you can say its nothing alike but it kinda is at the end of the day as you are taking away a bit of money from the webmaster that they could have earned otherwise.

Although saying all that I am pretty sure we would all love to see flash adverts disappear and if you are using them – do remove them as people zone them out long ago. Replace it with something that people may find useful!

Further reading: Why BAT could change the ecosystem.

Need to reference?

Ellis, M. (2016). The ethics of Adblocking. [online] Snat's Narratives & Tales. Available at: [Accessed 07 Dec 2023].

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well ……….. now the end user view… If all the ads were harmless and “just” annoying I would not really have a problem with them, but when they start flashing all around you, bring millions of popups telling you that your computer needs cleaning etc… and bring in viruses then I will block them. The ad blocked now is quite evolved, you can actually set it to show some but not other ads, so it will be up to the websites themselves to chose to display harmless ads that you can set your ad blocker to let through or the… Read more »


Indeed, can agree with the point – not all ads are harmless (then again that’s more due to how bad flash and java is designed which fixing those would solve that problem out right), but about ad blocking being selective yes you can indeed but how many really do more so if you are relying on search engine traffic to make the income for the website.

I wouldn’t be surprised if in the months and years to come people will block people using ad-blocker from accessing their websites.