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In the past people would serve "stuff", and I'd have a client to receive that stuff.

The whole point of the WWW is that you must not rely on your user having a particular browser. Or operating system. Or display resolution. Or a display at all. You serve valid stuff and allow the client to parse it how they like. You can suggest nice font sizes and good contrast colours, but if they want to view it at 72 pt in pink on yellow they can.

Lots of the WWW ignores the fact that people may be using different screens or different whatever to view the content. Luckily we're moving away from fixed font sizes and a little fixed width blob of content in the middle of an otherwise white screen, but there are still weird lock ins around.

And Facebook are just following this trend - "this is our content, and it's our service, and you'll view it how we want you to".

Your wider point is a good one though. If people are annoyed at ads they should stop visiting the site serving those ads, with maybe a polite email explaining why they're not going to visit again.




One comment really caught my attention in there:

>> Man, this really blows. FB Purity helps me, a blind user, actually use Facebook more effectively than without it. sighs I do hope you continue to fight the power.

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I'm glad you raised this. To me, this case is most interesting not as a way to bash FB (I'm not a member), but as a conceptual marker:

Is it OK for a user agent, running on my hardware, to alter the way content is displayed? Can the FB TOS actually be binding when it restricts your ability to do this?

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> If people are annoyed at ads they should stop visiting the site serving those ads..

If people are annoyed at ads they should stop visiting ad servers. Hence, AdBlock and Ghostery.

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If they object to paying for the service, they should stop using the service- not just stop paying for it.

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In what sense does directing one's browser to issue HTTP requests towards a foreign endpoint imply payment? Am I "paying" HN for POSTing this comment?

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Sigh. You know full-well what I am talking about. Discussing it in terms of what is technically occurring does not achieve anything- Facebook is a service. The service is provided to you for free in return for showing you advertisements. If you block those advertisements then you are depriving Facebook of the means by which they pay for your presence on their service.

No, it is not a direct payment. Yes, it is a transaction.

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Right, but it's worth pointing out that business models reliant on browser-requested ads are based on a faulty assumption that site owners control clients. Does Facebook's TOS include a statement to the effect of "the user must make a best effort to download all resources linked from each page"?

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You realize that argument is like saying that you shouldn't have to pay for the bus if you're able to sneak on via the back doors without being seen.

Yes, there are ways to get around Facebook's ad serving and use the service "for free", in that sense.

Is it possible? Sure.. Is it legal? Probably.. Is it the right thing to do? Probably not..

If you object to the ads being served to you on Facebook, you should probably not use the service at all..

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No, it's not like that at all.

It's more like I want to go to the store, so I invite the store to send me a driver who will use my car to drive me to the store. The store accepts my invitation, but when the driver shows up he wants to invite a bunch of hitchhikers into my car but I politely decline. Meanwhile, I'm driven to the store.

Your bus analogy assumes that Facebook owns and operates my browser. That is incorrect.

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These analogies are stupid, but in your example it's more like you invite the store to send a driver and they say "sure, he's going to bring five people with him", you say "OK, fine", then when he arrives you forcibly eject the five people you agreed to ride with.

But like I said. Analogies get really dumb when you get too deeply into them.

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This isn't really relevant to Facebook. Facebook ads are pay-per-click. If you don't click FB ads, they don't make any money anyway. Also FB serves their own ads from their own servers, so you can't just block the ad servers.

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Facebook serves their own ads, so blocking servers won't help.

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