iOS 9 adblocker apps top App Store charts; developer pulls ‘Peace’ adblocker

“Less than a day after the launch of iOS 9, Apple’s latest operating system, content blocking software is at the top of the app charts worldwide,” Alex Alex Herns for The Guardian. “In the UK, two content blockers have hit the top 20 paid apps, with Purify at number 11 and Peace at number 12. In the US, the take-up has been even starker: Purify is at number 5 in the charts, and Peace is the top paid app in the whole country.”

“The rise of adblocking has proved concerning for web publishers, many of whom rely largely or exclusively on display advertising for revenue,” Hern reports. “Publishers argue that blocking display ads hurts their business, and is unethical because it allows users to view content without paying the implied price of an ad impression.”

“The developer of Peace is Marco Arment, a high profile iOS developer known for being the first employee of Tumblr, as well as his previous apps Instapaper and Overcast,” Hern reports. “Arment has expressed his hope that blocking bad ads will lead to publishers being forced to adopt ‘better monetisation methods,’ from selling adverts directly (and so cutting out the data-collecting middlemen) to collecting direct payments from readers. To that effect, Peace offers the ability to ‘whitelist’ sites easily from the share menu in Safari, if a user wants to support a specific publisher.”

“But others argue that the rise of adblocking will instead have a counterproductive effect, driving publishers to platforms where adverts – and tracking code – cannot be blocked,” Hern reports. “Facebook and Apple News are two such platforms, as Casey Johnston, a technology journalist, writes: ‘Driving publishers to Facebook will not get rid of invasive trackers; it’s only declaring allegiance to the most comprehensive one, which has bought data from brokers with hundreds of millions of consumer profiles, and whose privacy policy doesn’t prevent it from selling users’ data, as long as it is anonymised (a process widely considered insufficient for privacy protection).'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Marco Arment has since pulled Peace from the App Store writing:

Just doesn’t feel good

I’ve pulled Peace from the App Store. I’m sorry to all of my fans and customers who bought this on my name, expecting it to be supported for longer than two days. It’ll keep working for a long time if you already have it, but with no updates.

If you want a refund, here’s how you do that.

As I write this, Peace has been the number one paid app in the U.S. App Store for about 36 hours. It’s a massive achievement that should be the highlight of my professional career. If Overcast even broke the top 100, I’d be over the moon.

Achieving this much success with Peace just doesn’t feel good, which I didn’t anticipate, but probably should have. Ad blockers come with an important asterisk: while they do benefit a ton of people in major ways, they also hurt some, including many who don’t deserve the hit.

Peace required that all ads be treated the same — all-or-nothing enforcement for decisions that aren’t black and white. This approach is too blunt, and Ghostery and I have both decided that it doesn’t serve our goals or beliefs well enough. If we’re going to effect positive change overall, a more nuanced, complex approach is required than what I can bring in a simple iOS app.

I still believe that ad blockers are necessary today, and I still think Ghostery is the best one, but I’ve learned over the last few crazy days that I don’t feel good making one and being the arbiter of what’s blocked.

Ad-blocking is a kind of war — a first-world, low-stakes, both-sides-are-fortunate-to-have-this-kind-of-problem war, but a war nonetheless, with damage hitting both sides. I see war in the Tao Te Ching sense: it should be avoided when possible; when that isn’t possible, war should be entered solemnly, not celebrated.

Even though I’m “winning”, I’ve enjoyed none of it. That’s why I’m withdrawing from the market.

It’s simply not worth it. I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to turn away an opportunity like this, and I don’t begrudge anyone else who wants to try it. I’m just not built for this business.

I suggest you use Ghostery on the desktop and one of these competitors on iOS instead, both of which are good apps that were probably about to surpass Peace anyway:

Purify
Crystal

And again, if you want a refund on Peace, here’s how to get it.

I know pulling Peace from the store after just two days is going to be an immensely unpopular move, and subject me to a torrent of unpleasantness. But that’ll end soon enough, and that’s better than how I’d feel if I kept going.

Last night, in an effort to improve my morale, I did some low-level technical work on Overcast, which I greatly enjoy. It was a breath of fresh air: rather than a tricky business of messy distinctions and low technical challenge, I got to engage the technical part of my brain and make something great that doesn’t hurt anyone, with no asterisks or qualifications.

That’s my peace.

Marco Arment

Currently, the Top Paid iPhone Apps include the following content blockers:

1. Crystal $0.99
4. Purify Blocker $3.99
20. Blockr $0.99

The Top Paid iPad apps include the following content blockers:
2. Crystal $0.99
12. Purify Blocker $3.99
29. Blockr $0.99

Tell us which one you like best!

And, of course, as always, thanks for whitelisting us!

(MacDailyNews is a independent website. We’re not owned by a large corporation. Without our advertisers, we wouldn’t be here. Even the act of allowing an ad to load – whitelisting – helps MacDailyNews continue to operate. As always, thank you so much for visiting and for your support! We really appreciate it!)

54 Comments

    1. Maybe he meant “peace” in regard to how peaceful he thought the web would be once adblockers like his kill off all of the interesting sites like MacDailyNews?

      1. Its hard to tell. I do not mind regular Ads but they are getting crazy. Songs play and will not stop, and you cant find them… Just stupid.
        Ford had an ad that kept jumping to the front every time you got near it. Makes me hate Ford… Pretty stupid for spending money on an ad that makes me hate the product.

        Just saying here.

  1. I don’t mind sites having some static ads, however, when they mine my cookies and give me targeted ads without my permission, I get thoroughly pissed off (MDN take note – I have already emailed you about this).

    Any site which mines data from visitors’ cookies without as much as a ‘do you mind’ request deserve to be ad blocked

    1. Contextual ads (targeted ads) can be controlled using the AdChoices link on an contextual ad (blue triangle, top right of every contextual ad on this page). Not all ads are contextual, so they will not display the AdChoices link.

      Follow the link to turn off what you desire.

      For example, in Google AdSense, you would set “Ads based on your interests” to “OFF.”

      • You will still see ads and they may be based on your general location (such as city or state)
      • Ads will not be based on data Google has associated with your Google Account, and so may be less relevant
      • You will no longer be able to edit your interests
      • All the advertising interests associated with your Google Account will be deleted

      You control the ads here and what they track. The ads displayed here provide the exact mechanism you desire. Don’t blame, bother, and whine about MacDailyNews because you can’t manage to figure out how to click a simple link and set a toggle to “Off.”

        1. What if doing so kills the websites you like to visit, genius? Enjoy your version of the Web. Three sites for which people pay subscriptions and nothing much else. Or, for what’s really going to happen: Every free websites will simply embed ads into articles – the articles are the ads. You can’t block them. Publishers get paid. And now you have to wade through articles trying to figure out if it’s sincere or an ad. Have fun!

            1. What if there aren’t enough of you to allow for sites you like to remain solvent? Hint: Look at the state of subscriptions on the Web. There aren’t enough people like you.

              If you like to visit 10 sites per day and each charges $4.99 per month, that’s $49.99 per month. Pay less than that and the sites you like will start to go offline. I don’t know why you ad-blocking types can’t see what the results of your actions could be.

            2. Mdn had a pop up come up for those using Adblock… So I disabled JavaScript for all of mdn. Problem solved.

              Most websites ads are so annoying that I do not care if they die off.

              There ARE other Mac websites I go to that I don’t run Adblock on… Or limited. Mdn is one of those I will always run it on.

          1. Commercialism is a very intrusive and generally not a good thing. It is one of the forces that is corroding society and screwing up our culture.
            If the Web is starker and has less content because commercialism is excluded, so be it. At least it will be honest and sane.

      1. Google controls online advertising. It is a monopoly. Websites are forced to use Google AdSense either directly or indirectly. Maybe this will break Google’s back (the government trust busters should have stepped in, but they were too busy persecuting Apple over threatening Amazon’s e-books monopoly). Hopefully it will not break the back of websites I like and appreciate, like MDN, and so many others.

        1. Not a bad reco, but now it is getting interesting here…

          which are the Google sites ?
          …you suggest us to block in order to get rid off the crap ?

          Google.com, adsense, adthing.com, and ….?

  2. Ads are annoying; but, more importantly they are turning into a security issue. Adware is wreaking havoc on many Macs right now. The advertising industry needs to clean up their garbage. The websites (like this one) also need to be aware of where their ads are coming from and who is creating them.

    1. This!
      Big reason I will always run some form of ad blocking and JS/domain blocking add ons.

      Not that I’m afraid of being infected on my macs/iOS like PC users are, But Java/flash can be the vehicle to infiltrate an otherwise secure Mac.

    2. Another major bitch I have about ads is that they eat data plans and batteries. Excuse me Mr intrusive advertiser, throwing uninvited bullshit in my face, how dare you burden my hardware and cell service cost to propagandize me?
      Go away!

  3. I’ve been a long time opponent of MDN’s ads, commenting that MDN is the sole reason that I have an ad blocker (100% true!) and that the pop ups a week or two ago would drive me away (likely would have by now, but they only did it about 3-4 days).

    But after they removed the pop up, they managed to push some ads through to me around my ad blocker. (Or malfunction on my end – whatever.)

    I’m happy to report that the ads didn’t bring my machine to a crawl as they once did. They weren’t as abusive as they have been in the past. I’m not going to whitelist MDN – I’m removing my ad blocker. Today. Until (unless) they become a major resource hog and cause problems running again, I’m adblock free.

    Thanks, MDN, for a website I truly enjoy, and will now again support by ignoring (but not blocking!) your ads. 😉

  4. MacDailyNews Advertising quantity is obscene! They win while we lose, time and cellular cuota. Anyway, MacDailyNews NEVER ends loading in my iPhone, so I NEVER read this page in mobile.

          1. Predrag, it isn’t you, it’s Autocorrect. The underlying code has taken on a mischievious life of its own. There are countless anecdotes about autofill and autocorrect twisting the writer’s meaning to its reverse, those occurrences statistically interleavened with comical nonsense to divert our suspicion from the truth—that autocorrect is the alpha A.I. softening up our species for a takeover. The testing period is just about complete, and I fear Sarajevo lies just ahead…

    1. I have to ask why they need such a large quantity of advertising. What is that they really do? They don’t originate content, save for an editorial every six to eight weeks. They just excerpt existing content (suggested by readers) and tack on a “take”. The layout of this site hasn’t changed significantly since I began reading it ten years ago. The most recent change to the layout, displaying fewer comments on each page, seems designed to increase clicks, and thus ad impressions. They like to give the impression that there’s this MDN “office”, but really, this site could be run by two or three people in their spare time. There are plenty of sites out there that require far more obvious effort that have far fewer ads.

      ——RM

      1. this site is run on dell servers at a colo location.. i dug into it once… pretty funny when think about it.

        its just a link aggregator, not unlike buzzfeed and all those other crap sites.. they just happen to aggregate mac news

    1. Yeah the reason I upgraded to iOS 9 was to get the Ad Blocker on my iPad 3, but none of them are compatible with this model. Why? This really sucks. Now I am FORCED to get a new iPad Pro. Darn! Why me? Now I’ll be stuck with the latest and greatest. Wah! 🙂

  5. The ad blockers seem to work briefly and then another ad pops into its place. More disturbing is that legitimate content is getting blocked more making the web visiting experience worse….. and is it my imagination or do the websites take longer to load. Personally I’m beginning to think these so called ad blockers are as much bullshit as battery doctor apps.

  6. Thanks for the recommendations, MDN. I’ve installed Purity, and refreshed macdailynews and am thrilled to have all the garbage disappear. I might enjoy MDN again, finally.

  7. I don’t use an iOS ad-blocker, yet. But if more sites start using those ads that throw you into the app store, I will be there.

    I don’t block ads because of paranoia about data mining. I block them because they get in the way of enjoying a site. I don’t like moving ads, and I can’t stand ads for obvious scams.

    ——RM

  8. That’s a pretty sensible point of view. I abandoned adblock after a trial period because I found that I missed the ads, believe it or not! They offered a dynamic counterpoint to the often stale articles and recycled commentaries. Ads offer variety and demonstrate responsiveness to my interests, something often conspicuously lacking in a monochrome, monotone Apple echo chamber such as MDN and its community of readers. No offense.

    But after I’ve examined and purchased three pairs of shoes online, Google assumes I am Imelda Marcos and offers little else until I click elsewhere to give the Adsense monster a diversionary data point. If I’m to be stalked by A.I., I’d prefer the stalker to be a tad more discerning or at least exhibit common sense—which hack computer programmers working in a marketing sweatshop seem to lack.

  9. The TWiT.tv podcast ‘Security Now!’ has been covering this issue directly over the course of the last couple months. I’ve personally interacted with Leo Laporte on the issue whereby he has a mixed opinion, as the head of a company that depends upon advertising for his revenue, albeit extremely high quality advertising.

    Rather than leap into the fray, I’ll simply say that I pick and choose who gets to track me and when. That control is possible. I allow ads at websites I respect. I do my damnedest to block ALL ‘Bad Ads’. (I’m looking directly at the outright assholes at ZeoBIT/Kromtech Alliance Corp. whom I personally consider to be the epitome of scum rat advertisers on the Mac platform, the purveyors of MacKeeper). I’m also pointing at ALL pushers of adware. You RUIN the Internet. So die.

    1. https://www.grc.com/securitynow.htm

      Watch/hear these episodes:
      – #520: The Quest for Surfing Safety
      – #521: Security Is Difficult
      – #523: uBlock Origin
      – #525: Disconnect

      Also check out these apps and add-ons:
      – Cookie
      – Cookie Stumbler
      – Adblock (by Michael Gundlach)
      – uBlock and uBlock Origin
      – Disconnect
      – Better Privacy
      – Self-Destructing Cookies

      There are loads of others. But these are my faves. I tend to avoid AdBlock Plus because of their business model.

      Remember that ads allow places like MDN to be free to read. If there are obnoxious ads at any website, there are ways to selectively wipe them off the page while allowing nicer ads to remain. Also keep in mind that websites themselves typically subscribe to ad sources and rarely curate the ads themselves. Blame the ad sources if the ads suck. That’s why I point out ZeoBIT/Kromtech above. I never want to see their MacKeeper ads again in my lifetime.

    2. Getting back to iOS 9:

      Check out the Dolphin web browser. It has ad blocking built in. It’s also one of my faves and I wish it was also available for OS X. The iCab web browser is also useful in this respect. Both are worth supporting.

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