Pop-up, pop-under blockers no longer working (#3)

Pop-up, pop-under blockers no longer working (#3)


We continue coverage of a non-product/platform-specific issue where Web advertisement pop-unders appear to infiltrate blocking mechanisms with greater frequency.

As noted last week, this problem isn't limited to Safari; nor is it limited to Macs. Instead, it appears to be the result of new ad delivery techniques that seek to subvert traditional blocking systems.

Several users have reported success with shareware solutions that can successfully thwart the new ad delivery schemes.

PithHelmet blocks image, javascript, Flash ads and GIF animations. It can also collapse blocked content so that it is hidden from view.

Randolph Mitchell writes: No popups or pop-unders seen with Safari 1.2.4 (10.3.8) at any sites, including macosrumors.com, macdailynews.com, howstuffworks.com, and drudgereport.com; perhaps because I'm running Pith Helmet?"

Privoxy provides filtering capabilities for protecting privacy, filtering web page content, managing cookies, controlling access, and removing ads, banners, pop-ups

Lars Eggert writes "For ad blocking, you can't beat privoxy. It's an HTTP proxy running on your local box that filters the HTML before it reaches the browser. It's free, multi-platform, rock-solid and easy to install (web-based configuration.)"

Internet Cleanup blocks banner ads, pop-ups, and purports to detect the presence of spyware.

MacFixIt reader Mike writes: "If people want to block just about all pop up ads then I can recommend Allume's Internet Cleanup. Since installing this software some time ago and using it's default configuration I have not seen any pop up advertising on my Mac."

FlashBlock For Firefox users, an extension called FlashBlock enables users to have control over all flash ads and whether they show or not. See the section below on Macromedia technologies subverting pop-under blockers for more information.

A tedious workaround Meanwhile, MacFixIt reader Steve notes a kludgy workaround that works to eliminate some "on-click" pop-unders:

"I don't see the new pop-unders on the Drudge Report [Ed.- One of the sites implicated for increased pop-unders in our initial report] any more. The way these things work is that they're set to open an ad when you leave the site by clicking on a link. So I right-click on the link I want, copy the URL, and paste it in the address bar. It's a bit kludgey, but it works like a charm."

Pop-unders causing crashes A handful of MacFixIt readers have reported a more serious, but related issue where Safari crashes when attempting to display some pop-under ads.

MacFixIt reader Barry Maggert writes: "I have had a more serious annoying problem which started sometime last fall. A few sites crash Safari when trying to open a pop-up window and I have Pop-up Blocking turned on. The two sites that do this to me are CBS.SportsLine.com and PGATour.com. When visiting these sites I have to turn Pop-up Blocking off first or Safari "unexpectedly quits." They obviously have new 'pop-up code' of some kind. (Their main page doesn't do this, just certain sub-pages try to open pop-up ads.)

"Apple's discussion groups have many people noting the same problem, so I know it's not just me. I've also noticed the problem exists with OmniWeb, but not with Camino or FireFox, which leads me to believe it is KHTML based. That's what Safari and OmniWeb have in common."

If you are experiencing a similar issue, please let us know.

Response from a pop-up subverter Last week we mentioned a company called "Popuptraffic.com" that was directly boasts about their ability to subvert pop-up blockers.

MacFixIt reader David Ourisman had an interesting exchange with a representative from "Popuptraffic.com", as follows:

David Ourisman wrote: "I am writing to complain about the fact that you are intentionally trying to subvert web users desire not to view pop-under ads. This is a very poor business practice, and I consider any impression from an unwanted advertisement to be an inducement to boycott that advertiser."

Popuptraffic.com's response: "How dare you? Let me teach you a little something that you obviously never were able to grasp. If you go to a website and in exchange for taking what that website is providing, you are shown a popup ad, you allow the owner of the site the to recoup some of the very real costs involved with keeping a site online. By using a popup blocker, you are essentially stealing their work. You're nothing more than a common thief. Sincerely, Ron Holiday."

Macromedia technology used to subvert blockers As mentioned above, users have had great success using the plug-in FlashBlock for Firefox to avoid the new, more persistent pop-unders. This is because many of the new ad delivery mechanisms use JavaScript embedded in Macromedia Flash elements to force the ads through.

For example, MacFixIt reader Charles Jenkins writes: "A few months ago, using Firefox under Windows, I went to a site that required either Shockwave or Flash, and once I installed the new Macromedia plug-in, I started getting popups there and at many other sites. I guessed that my browser was blocking JavaScript popups, but the sites had to be opening the windows with Macromedia commands...so I immediately removed Macromedia stuff from my computer and went back to popup-free surfing."

An example of this code is at: http://www.flashbax.com/flash_popup_windows.htm

In order to block this particular type of pop-under, you will need to either remove Macromedia Flash plug-ins and associated software from your system or use a blocking tool that can handle Macromedia content like PithHelmet.

MacDailyNews bars pop-under ads A number of the sites cited for increased pop-under activity in our original article have since posted messages indicating that they are taking measures to prevent such ads from being delivered henceforth.

The Webmaster from MacDailyNews tells us:

"Until we understand exactly what's going on and/or Apple fixes Safari's pop up blocker to once again effectively block our pop-under ads for users that desire to block them, we will not be serving pop under ads."

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