Adblock Plus

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Adblock Plus
Adblock Plus 2014 Logo.svg
Developer(s) Eyeo GmbH[1][2][3]
Current lead developer:
Wladimir Palant
Former lead developers:

Henrik Aasted Sørensen,
Michael McDonald
Initial release 2006
Stable release
for Firefox

2.7.3 (April 27, 2016; 2 years ago (2016-04-27)[4]) [±]

for Chrome, Opera, Safari

1.11 (March 8, 2016; 2 years ago (2016-03-08)[5]) [±]

for IE

1.5 (September 22, 2015; 3 years ago (2015-09-22)[6]) [±]

for Android
1.3 (March 3, 2015; 3 years ago (2015-03-03)[7]) [±]
Written in JavaScript, XUL, CSS
Operating system Cross-platform
Type Mozilla extension
Android application
License GPL

Adblock Plus (ABP) is an open-source[8][9] content-filtering and ad blocking extension developed by Eyeo GmbH (Wladimir Palant), a German software developer. The extension has been released for Mozilla Firefox (including Firefox for mobile[10]), Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, Yandex Browser and Android.

In 2011, AdBlock Plus and Eyeo attracted considerable controversy from its users when it introduced an "Acceptable Ads" program to allow "certain non-intrusive ads" (such as Google AdWords) to be allowed under the extension's default settings. In 2013, the Financial Times reported that Google, Microsoft, and other major companies in the web advertising business had been paying Eyeo upwards of $120 million per year for their ads to be whitelisted. As a result, developers have created competing adblockers such as uBlock which do not have Acceptable Ads programs.

History and statistics

Michael McDonald created Adblock Plus 0.5, which improved on the original Adblock by incorporating the following features:

  • whitelisting
  • support for blocking background images
  • subscription to filters with a fixed address and automatic updates
  • the ability to hide HTML elements, allowing a greater range of images to be blocked
  • the ability to hide ads on a per-site basis, instead of globally
  • memory leak fixes
  • improvements to the user interface

McDonald discontinued development and transferred the name to Wladimir Palant, who released Adblock Plus 0.6 with a rewritten codebase in January 2006.[11] PC World chose Adblock Plus as one of the 100 best products of 2007.[12]

Adblock Plus for Google Chrome has been available since December 2010 and has over 10 million users.[13] It has also become the most popular extension for Firefox, with around 18 million users as of March 2014.[14]

Adblock Plus was released as an app for Android devices in November 2012.

On March 3, 2013, the Android app was removed from the Google Play Store along with similar ad blocking apps.[15] Some apps remain in the Play Store with the caveat that they require root access in order to function. Adblock Plus, while not in the Play Store, is still available on the app's website. User's can download the .apk file directly and install it as a third-party app if they allow "Unknown Sources" in Android settings.[16]

Adblock Plus has been available for Internet Explorer since August 2013.[17]

Adblock Plus has been available for Safari since January 2014.[18]

Adblock Plus has been available for Yandex Browser since December 2014.[19]

An Adblock Plus browser beta version was made available in May 2015, called the "Adblock Browser".[20] Adblock Browser 1.0 was released on 7 September 2015, based on Firefox for mobile.[21]

Adblock Plus has created an independent board to review what is an acceptable ad and what is not[22][23]


A website hosting Google ads with and without Adblock Plus

Like Mozilla's built-in image blocker, Adblock Plus blocks HTTP and HTTPS requests according to their source address and additional context information and can block iframes, scripts, and Flash. It also uses automatically generated user stylesheets to hide elements such as text ads on a page as they load instead of blocking them, known as element hiding.[24]


On rooted devices, the Android app blocks all web traffic including mobile networks. For non-rooted devices, ads are only blocked through a Wi-Fi connection and require the user to set up a manual proxy server.[25] Ads are only blocked on individual Wi-Fi connections and users must manually configure the proxy server for each individual network in order for the app to function. The app uses a local proxy server to intercept web traffic and remove ads before showing ad-free content to the user. Most of the content that users are trying to avoid is successfully blocked, though some content is missed and the app is not as reliable at blocking ads as the browser versions. The app can be configured to auto-start every time the device reboots, minimizing the action required by the user.


Basic filter rules can include wildcards represented by asterisks (*). Sites and objects can be whitelisted with filters that start with two at signs (@@). Regular expressions delimited by slashes (/) can be used. Adblock Plus also supports a more-sophisticated syntax that gives fine-grain control over filters.[26] An example of the sophisticated filtering would be, which will hide the centralNotice element used by Wikipedia to display donation requests.

Filter subscriptions

Users can add external filtersets. Adblock Plus includes the ability to use one or more external filter subscriptions that are automatically updated. Filterset.G is incompatible with this system (and Adblock Plus specifically recommends against using Filterset.G for other reasons as well), but other filtersets can be added by typing their addresses. A list of known Adblock Plus subscriptions is maintained on the Adblock Plus official website.[27]

EasyList[28] was the most popular Adblock Plus filter list as of August 2011, with over 12 million subscribers.[29] Created by Rick Petnel,[30] it became officially recommended by the Adblock Plus program, and filter lists for other languages were built on top of it. Petnel died in 2009[31][32] following which Palant named a user going by the name "Ares2" as the new maintainer.[33] The filter lists EasyList and EasyPrivacy are both subscribed by default in uBlock but not in Adblock Plus itself.

In May 2013, the second most popular Adblock Plus filter list, Fanboy's List, was merged with EasyList.[34]

Controversy over ad filtering and ad whitelisting

The owners of some websites which use third party hosted online advertising to fund the hosting of their websites have argued that the use of ad-blocking software such as Adblock Plus risks cutting off their revenue stream.[35][36] While some websites such as The New York Times and The Daily Telegraph have successfully implemented subscription and membership based paywall systems for revenue,[37] many websites today rely on third party hosted online advertising to function. In 2007, web developer Danny Carlton described the use of adblockers as tantamount to theft,[38] and called for other site owners to block the Firefox web browser from their websites to deter its use.[39]

On December 5, 2011, Wladimir Palant announced that certain "acceptable" ads would be whitelisted in upcoming builds of the Adblock Plus software, with the option to remove whitelisted ads via a custom setting in the software. According to Palant, only static advertisements with a maximum of one script will be permitted as "acceptable", with a preference towards text-only content. The announcement created some controversy both at Adblock Plus's website and at social media sites like Reddit.[40]

In 2012 Adblock Plus's managing director Till Faida told the Swiss newspaper Thurgauer Zeitung that the "strategic partners" on Adblock Plus's whitelist would not be named, but that the partnership is part of the company's "Acceptable Ads" whitelist project.[41] In February 2013, an anonymous source accused Adblock Plus developer Wladimir Palant of offering to add his site's advertisements to the whitelist in return for one-third of the advertisement revenue.[42] In June 2013, blogger Sascha Pallenberg accused the developers of Adblock Plus of maintaining business connections to "strategic partners in the advertising industry", and called ABP a "mafia-like advertising network".[43] He alleged that Adblock Plus whitelisted all ads coming from "friendly" sites and subsidiaries, and promoted their product using fake reviews and pornography.[44] Faida responded to Pallenberg's accusations, stating that "a large part of the information concerning the collaboration with our partners is correct," but that the company did not see these industry connections as a conflict of interest. He said that the company is convinced that the "acceptable ads" business model will be successful and says that the whitelisting criteria are "completely transparent".[43] He also stated that "We have an initiative called Acceptable Ads to support websites with unobtrusive ads. Every website can participate. The [Pallenberg] article on purpose just slanders our good name".[44]

In response to the "acceptable ads" whitelisting, forks of Adblock Plus were created such as Adblock Edge[45] and the now defunct Adblock Lite.[46]

Legal Challenge

In December 2014 it was reported that Zeit Online GmbH and Handelsblatt GmbH had brought suit against Eyeo GmbH in the Landgericht Hamburg.[47][48][49] In April 2015 the court rejected the suit.[50][51][52] Axel Springer has filed a court order for removal of adblock plus post[53] though there is a redacted version[54] and people are posting videos and posts on how to get around the Axel Springer wall[55][better source needed]


Some webmasters have used JavaScript to detect the effects of the popular Adblock Plus filters.[56][57] This is done by generating a honeypot-like URL, verifying its delivery, and DOM verification after the web page is rendered by the web browser, to ensure the expected advertising elements are present. Detection is simplified since the extension is not yet capable of replacing content; Loopback proxies provide this additional functionality.

These methods do not detect the presence of the Adblock Plus extension directly, only the effects of the filters. They are vulnerable to continued filter updates, and whitelist-filtering web scripts with extensions such as NoScript.

An attempt was made to detect the plug-in itself, but that detection method was rendered unusable by the update of Adblock Plus.[58]

Google Chrome had a defect in Content Security Policy that allowed the detection of any installed extension, including Adblock Plus for Google Chrome.[59] The solution of this was possible only in Google Chrome 18, and requires each developer to make some changes in their extensions.[60] Adblock Plus for Google Chrome fixed this in version 1.3.[61]

See also


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External links