Current lead developer:
Former lead developers:
Henrik Aasted Sørensen,
Adblock Plus (ABP) is an open-source content-filtering and ad blocking extension for Mozilla Firefox (including Firefox for mobile), Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, and Yandex Browser web browsers. In November 2012, Adblock Plus was also released as an app for Android devices. The extension allows users to prevent page elements, such as advertisements, from being downloaded and displayed. It is a fork of the original Adblock extension, developed by Michael McDonald. Adblock Plus bears no relation to AdBlock.
History and statistics
Michael McDonald created Adblock Plus 0.5, which improved on the original Adblock by incorporating the following features:
- support for blocking background images
- subscription to filters with a fixed address and automatic updates
- the ability to hide HTML elements, allowing a greater range of images to be blocked
- the ability to hide ads on a per-site basis, instead of globally
- memory leak fixes
- improvements to the user interface
McDonald discontinued development and transferred the name to Wladimir Palant, who released Adblock Plus 0.6 with a rewritten codebase in January 2006. PC World chose Adblock Plus as one of the 100 best products of 2007.
Adblock Plus for Google Chrome has been available since December 2010 and has over 10 million users. It has also become the most popular extension for Firefox, with around 18 million users as of March 2014.
Adblock Plus was released as an app for Android devices in November 2012.
On March 3, 2013, the Android app was removed from the Google Play Store along with similar ad blocking apps. Some apps remain in the Play Store with the caveat that they require root access in order to function. Adblock Plus, while not in the Play Store, is still available on the app's website. User's can download the .apk file directly and install it as a third-party app if they allow "Unknown Sources" in Android settings.
Like Mozilla's built-in image blocker, Adblock Plus blocks HTTP and HTTPS requests according to their source address and additional context information and can block iframes, scripts, and Flash. It also uses automatically generated user stylesheets to hide elements such as text ads on a page as they load instead of blocking them, known as element hiding.
On rooted devices, the Android app blocks all web traffic including mobile networks. For non-rooted devices, ads are only blocked through a Wi-Fi connection and require the user to set up a manual proxy server. Ads are only blocked on individual Wi-Fi connections and users must manually configure the proxy server for each individual network in order for the app to function. The app uses a local proxy server to intercept web traffic and remove ads before showing ad-free content to the user. Most of the content that users are trying to avoid is successfully blocked, though some content is missed and the app is not as reliable at blocking ads as the browser versions. The app can be configured to auto-start every time the device reboots, minimizing the action required by the user.
Basic filter rules can include wildcards represented by asterisks (
*). Sites and objects can be whitelisted with filters that start with two at signs (
@@). Regular expressions delimited by slashes (
/) can be used. Adblock Plus also supports a more-sophisticated syntax that gives fine-grain control over filters. An example of the sophisticated filtering would be
wikipedia.org##div#centralNotice, which will hide the centralNotice element used by Wikipedia to display donation requests.
Users can add external filtersets. Adblock Plus includes the ability to use one or more external filter subscriptions that are automatically updated. Filterset.G is incompatible with this system (and Adblock Plus specifically recommends against using Filterset.G for other reasons as well), but other filtersets can be added by typing their addresses. A list of known Adblock Plus subscriptions is maintained on the Adblock Plus official website.
EasyList was the most popular Adblock Plus filter list as of August 2011, with over 12 million subscribers. Created by Rick Petnel, it became officially recommended by the Adblock Plus program, and filter lists for other languages were built on top of it. Petnel died in 2009 and he named a user going by the name "Ares2" as the new maintainer. The filter lists EasyList and EasyPrivacy are both subscribed by default in uBlock but not in Adblock Plus itself.
In May 2013, the second most popular Adblock Plus filter list, Fanboy's List, was merged with EasyList.
Controversy over ad filtering and ad whitelisting
The owners of some websites which use third party hosted online advertising to fund the hosting of their websites have argued that the use of ad-blocking software such as Adblock Plus risks cutting off their revenue stream. While some websites such as The New York Times and The Daily Telegraph have successfully implemented subscription and membership based paywall systems for revenue, many websites today rely on third party hosted online advertising to function. In 2007, web developer Danny Carlton described the use of adblockers as tantamount to theft, and called for other site owners to block the Firefox web browser from their websites to deter its use.
On December 5, 2011, Wladimir Palant announced that certain "acceptable" ads would be whitelisted in upcoming builds of the Adblock Plus software, with the option to remove whitelisted ads via a custom setting in the software. According to Palant, only static advertisements with a maximum of one script will be permitted as "acceptable", with a preference towards text-only content. The announcement created some controversy both at Adblock Plus's website and at social media sites like Reddit.
In 2012 Adblock Plus's managing director Till Faida told the Swiss newspaper Thurgauer Zeitung that the "strategic partners" on Adblock Plus's whitelist would not be named, but that the partnership is part of the company's "Acceptable Ads" whitelist project. In February 2013, an anonymous source accused Adblock Plus developer Wladimir Palant of offering to add his site's advertisements to the whitelist in return for one-third of the advertisement revenue. In June 2013, blogger Sascha Pallenberg accused the developers of Adblock Plus of maintaining business connections to "strategic partners in the advertising industry", and called ABP a "mafia-like advertising network". He alleged that Adblock Plus whitelisted all ads coming from "friendly" sites and subsidiaries, and promoted their product using fake reviews and pornography. Faida responded to Pallenberg's accusations, stating that "a large part of the information concerning the collaboration with our partners is correct," but that the company did not see these industry connections as a conflict of interest. He said that the company is convinced that the "acceptable ads" business model will be successful and says that the whitelisting criteria are "completely transparent". He also stated that "We have an initiative called Acceptable Ads to support websites with unobtrusive ads. Every website can participate. The [Pallenberg] article on purpose just slanders our good name".
These methods do not detect the presence of the Adblock Plus extension directly, only the effects of the filters. They are vulnerable to continued filter updates, and whitelist-filtering web scripts with extensions such as NoScript.
An attempt was made to detect the plug-in itself, but that detection method was rendered unusable by the 0.7.5.2 update of Adblock Plus.
Google Chrome had a defect in Content Security Policy that allowed the detection of any installed extension, including Adblock Plus for Google Chrome. The solution of this was possible only in Google Chrome 18, and requires each developer to make some changes in their extensions. Adblock Plus for Google Chrome fixed this in version 1.3.
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