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Tell Us What You Fear, What You Really Really Fear

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 05:20 AM EDT

The thing that scares Murdoch and the like into wanting to move web content behind a paywall is not the ABC, nor bloggers, nor aggregators.

What scares those moghuls most is firefox, or more accurately, the various browser add-ons that let you control what chews up your bandwidth, most notably AdBlock Plus.

Mind you, when The Economist puts stuff behind a paywall, I wouldn’t mind paying – intelligent, well-written reporting.  But what comes out of Rupert’s organs?  Pulleeeeze!

There have already been attempts by advertisers to thwart AdBlock, but for every action there is an even more effective reaction by the firefox community and the good folk at the main adblockplus.org site.  The Element Hiding Helper makes it even easier for non-geeks to cut down not just advertising, but gumpf that chokes your sessions at social network sites.

A little technical aside

AdBlock (and similar addons) are one of the reasons why, even when forced to use Windows, I choose Firefox.  With recent releases of Microsoft Internet Explorer, I was once easily able to find an adblocker extension through the Microsoft IE add-ons site.  No more!  The closest I can find for IE is AdBlockIE – but I have no idea how good it is.

Most browsers don’t have a user-friendly equivalent tool like Firefox does with AdBlock Plus… unless you go to some hassle installing a private web proxy filter (like privoxy) and get a geek to help with the regular expression incantations.

Mind you, when you want to see ads, AdBlock needs a little bit of geekery putting in whitelists… or you can use Chrome for those sites you want to support via seeing the ads (and yes, there are a few sites I do this for).

Back to the main line of thinking

Whether as a browser extension, a web proxy between you and the advertiser, whether through RSS feeds, flashblockers, (the list is endless), there are ways of viewing sites without being forced to pay for the blegabytes of ads chewing up your precious bandwidth.

Organizations like Murdoch’s will have to get you to pay to see their content, but this means actually providing content that isn’t already out there and freely available.  (Hence his attacks on Aunty ABC).

Other internet advertisers, including Google, will probably have worries about this too… although Google’s moves into software as a service, (basic facilities free to everyone, the popularity driving premium services to business and government via subscriptions, or by selling intranet enterprise search appliances) will gradually decrease reliance on advertising.

And if any of you bloggers out there want to hurt Murdoch while trawling through his garbage that he wants you to pay for?  Quick, use Firefox, use AdBlock Plus, and cut down his advertising revenue in the meantime while keeping control on your own spending… pay for the bandwidth you choose to see.

Actually, I lied…. kinda…  The biggest threat to Rupert’s cashflow isn’t Firefox with AdBlock Plus… he’s worrying how he can get employees that can write something worth reading, and even more importantly, release what good journos he has by letting them be proper journos rather than mere transcribers of propaganda from on high.