Forbes Is Confused: You Can View Content Using An Adblocker By Promising Not To Use An Adblocker

from the er? dept

Forbes, an organization with a website presumably built on the value of its content, also has made the unfortunate decision recently to try to block off access to anyone using adblocker software, apparently so that it could successfully allow malicious “ads” to infect its readers’ machines. This set of circumstances would seem to be one that would have Forbes re-thinking its adblocker policy, assuming it wishes to retain the trust of its readership. And it turns out that Forbes is doing so. And then not! Or maybe? Allow me to explain.

Rob Leathern recently noticed that going to and refreshing the screen after being told that he should disable his adblocker suddenly offered up a new option: becoming a member. That membership would allow the viewing of the content for free. And, hey, all it wanted in return was the ability to manage his social media contacts for him.

Forbes, a site that in the past has allowed malicious ads to be presented to its readers, would now like access and control of those readers’ social media contacts, which sounds like a terrible idea. But even more strange was when Leathern bothered to look into the terms of services that such a membership with Forbes entailed.

If you aren’t laughing by now, you should be. Because the ToS for a membership which would allow readers to access the site’s content while using an adblocker contain language asserting that you cannot use an adblocker. Whatever else you may think of Forbes in general, having multiple personalities running policy for the site seems like a bad strategy. Leathern’s conclusion summarizes it nicely:

So I’ve basically agreed now to not block their ads, after signing up for the express purpose of being able to see their content while blocking their ads.

Forbes: a confused schizophrenic that would like to serve you some malware, please. I can just hear the dollars rolling into the coffers now…

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Comments on “Forbes Is Confused: You Can View Content Using An Adblocker By Promising Not To Use An Adblocker”

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Anonymous Coward says:


Could this be Forbes trying to turn the Feds loose on viewers with ad-blockers? If you agree to not use an ad-blocker in return for access, and then use an ad-blocker, they could claim that your access was then “unauthorized”, and a felony violation of the Feds’ favorite computer law, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

That’ll teach those nasty ad-blockers!

Anonymous Coward says:

So in addition to being schizophrenic about adblocking, Forbes is also apparently under the delusion that adblockers are a third party. My adblocking plugins aren’t a “third party”. They’re me using a tool to remove, obstruct, and otherwise interfere with content that is both suspect and undesirable. The lists of rules they use are fully under my control, and the updates to these lists merely automate a process I would otherwise be doing myself. So when the adblocking plugins in my browser block something that’s not some third party blocking something, that’s me blocking something.

no namehere says:

Re: Re:

to me that means there is a lot of scripting in those ad’s.. if there’s scripting i don’t want it
companies can go bankrupt first .. i really don’t care. There is no article out there that is worth reading if it’s not somewhere else i can get to it without compromising my security and/or contact list.

John85851 (profile) says:

We need to talk more about malware

block off access to anyone using adblocker software, apparently so that it could successfully allow malicious “ads” to infect its readers’ machines
I love this sentence and I think it needs to be said more often simply because the argument over using adblockers is usually worded as “you’re stealing content by blocking ads”. Yet not many people talk about the malware that gets served as ads.

And don’t forget how much bandwidth (and time) is spent serving ads, especially on mobile devices. Is Forbes going to pay me back for using my data to serve ads and javascript code from 5 different sites?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: We need to talk more about malware

Saying you’re stealing content is completely backwards! If I don’t read every single letter of the page, am I stealing content as well? I guess not going to their website is also stealing content, then, right? I probably owe them a fortune, because I can’t remember the last time I opened one of their pages.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: We need to talk more about malware

“Saying you’re stealing content is completely backwards! If I don’t read every single letter of the page, am I stealing content as well?”

Not just read it, but buy the products as well. If you don’t buy the products, then you’re stealing! But let’s be reasonable. You don’t have to buy every product. One buy per page should do it.

ECA (profile) says:


They have access to your Social communications?
So, you wonder their site and ALL your nets, send links to the Forbes site, SHOWING what you are reading..

who HERE would allow FIRST PARTY ADVERTS?? not adverts from a 3rd party, Only ones from the site you are on??
Raise your hand…I know you are there..

Why cant Forbes GET IT into their heads, that THEY can make the ADVERTS for their site, for OTHER advertisers..and GET PAID FOR IT..

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s unfortunate that if you ARE on someone’s contacts list and they accept such an agreement the company in question already has access to your information whether you want them to or not. Most people still “click through” permissions and licensing systems like this without even bothering to read the fine print. Unless Google fine grains Android permissions even further and make *everything* including their own apps opt-in (and it will take laws to do it because they won’t on their own) this isn’t going to change.

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