Facebook's ads have been defeated (again) by Adblock Plus work-around (update)

It's a game of cat and mouse: Can Facebook display an ad that can't be blocked?

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
2 min read
Watch this: Facebook's newest ad-blocking tactic defeats Adblock Plus' workaround

That was quick.

Just two days after Facebook found a way to sneak ads past ad-blocking software, the ad blockers have struck back. Adblock Plus, one of the best-known tools for blocking ads on the internet, claims to have a work-around that can defeat Facebook's advertising.

According to an official Adblock Plus blog post Thursday, users of the software can simply add this line of code to their filters to make Facebook's ads go away:

facebook.com##DIV[id^="substream_"] ._5jmm[data-dedupekey][data-cursor][data-xt][data-xt-vimpr="1"][data-ftr="1"][data-fte="1"]

As you'd expect, Facebook isn't too happy about that change. Particularly because -- according to a Facebook representative -- the Adblock software is now filtering out other Facebook content as well.

Enlarge Image

How your Facebook feed should look with the new filter, according to Adblock Plus

Adblock Plus

"We're disappointed that ad-blocking companies are punishing people on Facebook, as these new attempts don't just block ads but also posts from friends and Pages," reads Facebook's statement.

Adblock Plus Communications Manager Ben Williams wouldn't comment on whether the new filters are blocking other forms of Facebook content, but he claims it would be Facebook's fault if that's true.

"If they are classifying ads as normal content it would appear they have an issue on their end," Williams wrote by email.

Either way, it sounds like Facebook plans to keep on fighting to make its advertising partners happy. The rest of the company's statement reads: "This isn't a good experience for people and we plan to address the issue. Ad blockers are a blunt instrument, which is why we've instead focused on building tools like ad preferences to put control in people's hands."

In the blog post, Williams writes that a game of cat and mouse between ad providers and ad-blocking companies is nothing new. If Facebook "re-circumvents" ad blockers again, he believes the ad-blocking community will step up with yet another filter.

Update, August 12: In the 24 hours since this story was published, Facebook and AdBlock Plus have each defeated one another's workarounds two times. In a new blog post today, Adblock Plus' Williams calls out Facebook for trampling "the will of the people" to further its business agenda.

"We invite publishers and websites to work with Adblock Plus and our whitelisting process, rather than circumventing consumers' expressed concerns," writes Williams, referring to the Acceptable Ads program the company launched in 2011.

"[I]t's disheartening that a company like Facebook would abuse everyone's experience of their site by forcing that experience into a one-size-fits-all, see-the-ads-or-else tube," he writes.

Disclosure: Sean's wife works for Facebook as a business-to-business video production coordinator. Sean works for a publication, CNET, that depends on ad revenue. Please don't block CNET ads, folks.