With Adblock Plus for Administrators, the Chrome extension now automatically suppresses the so-called “first-run” page — the page that first appears once Adblock Plus has been installed. This feature is useful for individual users, given that it lets them customize their setup, but it’s not so desirable in an organization that wants to control the configuration tool on all machines.
The company has been looking to support large-scale deployments for a while, and Adblock Plus has allowed the suppression of first-run pages on Chrome for a couple of months already in the development build of the extension. Today sees the feature arrive in the full consumer/enterprise-ready build.
Suppressing the first-run page is only part of the answer, though — the company says it is still working on the best ways to optimize the actual rollout of the software across large companies. And for companies that don’t use Chrome, Firefox support is coming soon; it’s currently available through a development build.
So why would a company wish to deploy an ad-block tool such as this? Well, it’s not simply about enhancing their employees’ web browsing experience. Stripping pages of pesky pop-ups and ads helps conserve bandwidth and reduce the risk of so-called “malvertising,” advertising used to inject malware on computers.
Ad blocking has become a hot topic of debate in recent times, with some questioning whether it equates to theft and others suggesting it’s immoral. Why? Publishers pay people to produce content, and this is often funded by ads placed alongside the content. Eyeo — the company behind Adblock Plus — has found itself in court on a few occasions, accused by publishers of illegal activity. But the company has hitherto emerged unscathed.
So the law is increasingly siding with ad-blocking users. But now that one of the most popular ad-blocking tools is gearing up to support large-scale rollouts across whole companies, this will likely stir the debate around ethics.