On Thursday, Forbes reported Google is moving ahead with its plan to disable the functionality of several popular Chrome ad blockers. As part of an initiative called Manifest v3, the firm will change its permission system to disallow access to its webRequest API.
Popular plug-ins like Ad Guard, Ghostery, and uBlock Origin use this subroutine to give users marketing free web browsing experiences. The corporation is offering content-filter developers a new API NetRequest that allows for a narrower range of ad blocking functionality.
The firm first announced plans to undercut the effectiveness of anti-ad software in January. Facing intense criticism from plug-in developers, Google said it would be willing to adjust its Manifest v3 policies. However, last week, the company reaffirmed its plans to change the functionality of the webRequest API in a developer Group discussion.
While other ad blockers use different methods to filter out advertising, Google’s backend modification will affect tens of millions of users.
Predictably, Google’s sweeping changes have not been well received by the plug-in developer community. Raymond Hill, creator of uBlock Origin, wrote that the Alphabet subsidiary’s API change would make Chrome less user-friendly. He also noted the firm’s subroutine adjustments benefit AdBlock Plus, a content-filter plugin that whitelists some ads as part of a profit-sharing agreement.
Ghostery offered even more pointed criticism of Google’s ad blocker disabling measures. The firm accused the corporation of using its market dominance to crush companies that threaten its lucrative marketing business. Notably, Google’s advertising segment represents 86 percent of Alphabet’s overall revenues.
The German-based company also stated it would consider filing an antitrust complaint if Google implemented the Manifest v3 modifications. In the last three years, the European Union has fined the tech multinational $9.3 billion for various anticompetitive practices.
The search engine has denied changing its platform to block content-filters from Chrome. The conglomerate asserts it’s modifying its API to prevent third parties from harvesting user data. However, Google’s non-universal deployment of its back end modifications undermines its claims. The corporation will continue to enable the webRequest API’s blocking functionality for its enterprise customers.
Furthermore, the firm admitted in a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing that ad blockers are a “risk factor” to its continued profitability.
Other User Options
Users losing their favorite ad blockers due to Google’s changes have a few options to preserve their preferred online experience.
Chrome users can install Adblock Plus to get rid of some ads, but its whitelisting policy does mitigate its effectiveness. Alternatively, consumers interested in abandoning Chrome altogether have their pick of quality web browsers.
Mozilla’s Firefox is a solid choice because of its content filtering support. However, it should be noted the firm has had recent issues with plug-in security certification. Users that appreciate the functionality of Chrome but dislike Google’s handling of the platform might want to try a Chromium-based application. Open-source browser Brave offers built-in ad blocking and anti-tracking measures. Opera is another Chromium-derived provider that features free content-filtering, VPN, and Crypto Wallet support.
Given the current climate, Google may face significant government prosecution for plainly manipulating its platform to benefit its services business. More importantly, it also may face a considerable backlash from some of its 2 billion Chrome users.