Two or three years ago, I started using a content blocker on Safari, both on the Mac and on the iPhone. I started with the good K-Block and soon switched to the excellent Wipr, which is still the one I recommend. Somehow, I always feel a little bit of shame and guilt when talking about content blockers, especially ad blockers. Obviously ads are too often the only way many publishers manage to make decent money on the internet: every newspaper can’t be financially successful with subscriptions, and every media company can’t survive only on contributions and grants.
But not all ads are created equal. For instance, what is astutely called “Surveillance advertising” is bad, and I think it should be more regulated to protect privacy. Other ads just make the web impossible to use and are therefore serving a purpose going against what they are supposed to do in the first place: generate money for publishers, not push away visitors from their website. But I digress, this is a very complex topic, and there is so much to say on the matter. Back to content blockers.
Prior to my use of proper content blockers, I used what I would call “privacy-protection” extensions, like DuckDuckGo’s Privacy Essentials, back when it was only an extension, and not a browser.1 With it, ads were not blocked or hidden, but at least I felt more protected from the dozens of aggressive and invasive trackers found on the web today. It was great, until it wasn’t: The web is such in a poor shape today, that this kind of blocker was not enough for me to simply enjoy the web.
This is what I wrote last year on a post titled Browsing the web in 2021 is a terrible experience:
Last week, I tried to use my devices without a content blocker for a few days. I quickly learned that a content blocker, just like WhatsApp, […] is an essential app that I need to keep around.
Well, things aren’t really better in 2022, are they?
An alternative to proper content blockers
It is possible and it works… for now
It’s interesting to see that relatively simple sites — Instagram and LinkedIn particularly — have such poor
I like what Firefox Focus does in that regard: it is a browser, but you can just use it as a privacy-protecting Safari extension if you prefer. Very smart.↩︎