What media companies don’t want you to know about ad blocker

[Commentary] New York Times CEO Mark Thompson caused a minor stir a couple weeks ago when he gave a speech at an advertising conference declaring that “No one who refuses to contribute to the creation of high quality journalism has the right to consume it.” He went on to say that while the Times is “not there yet,” the company may soon prevent users with ad blockers from accessing its site. But newspaper executives like Thompson often focus exclusively on the drawbacks of ad blockers, leaving a big part of the story untold.

Thompson did not say one word in his keynote address about the significant security benefits of ad blockers, which is ironic, because his paper was one of several news organizations that served its users ransomware—a particularly vicious form of malware that encrypts the contents of your computer and forces you to pay the perpetrators a ransom in bitcoin to unlock it—through its ad networks just a few months ago. Several major news sites—including the Times, the BBC, and AOL—had their ad networks hijacked by criminal hackers who attempted to install ransomware on readers’ computers. Advertising networks have served malware onto the computers of unwitting news readers over and over in the past couple years. You can bet this problem is only going to get worse.

[Trevor Timm is the executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation]


What media companies don’t want you to know about ad blocker