On Ad Blockers, Paywalls, and Entitlement

Questioning the demand for unlimited free content

Pax Ahimsa Gethen
4 min readNov 28, 2023
YouTube “play” logo with the Ad Block “hand” logo superimposed.

Since the dawn of intrusive advertisements, consumers have sought to avoid these interruptions to their viewing. This practice did not begin with the Internet. Many television viewers have left the room or muted the sound during commercial breaks. When VCRs became widely available, viewers fast-forwarded through recorded commercials. Then VCRs were developed that could automatically detect and skip past these ads.

So it was inevitable that when websites began peppering their pages with advertising, ad-blocking technology would soon follow. Beyond being annoyed by ads distracting the viewer from what they are trying to read, savvy users have become increasingly concerned about trackers that record their every move. Some web browsers — including Firefox, my browser of choice for many years — even have built-in functionality to block this surveillance.

Now, some ad-supported websites are starting to display notices or even block use of the site entirely when they detect suspected ad blockers. I have seen several such warnings myself even though I don’t use any such blockers; I simply use Firefox with its default, “Enhanced Tracking Protection” setting.