2. The Super Fine Print
Terms and conditions. Who in the world actually reads more than 3 words of any ToCs in existent? I hardly ever. Sometimes, when I’m bored, yes. But I did read YouTube’s terms of service in preparation for this. It is amazing.
Did you know that the moment you open YouTube Dot Com, whether or not you have read the ToS, you are bound by it? Yeah. The first step to even get to reading the ToS bounds you to the ToS! And it states that if you are not happy with the ToS, you are advised to leave. Pretty standard stuff on the Internet, actually.
But there is one part in the ToS, which, after running through a few law inclined friends (plus a couple of lawyers), have totally blown my mind away. I mean, they are law professionals, so you know, a little differing in opinion (because, you know, their jobs). There are some who said it is an arguable stance, but that will depend on how a judge or a lawyer view the case. Verdict’s about half-and-half right now.
It’s so, so simple though. In 4-B of the ToS, it states “You agree not to alter or modify any part of the Service.”
The moment you use an ad blocker, you might be altering a part of the ‘Service’, thus, you might not be considered a user! Whaaaaaaat~?
You cannot argue you did not know, because you installed ad blockers to block ads, which is an integrated part of the Service. And if you claim you did not read the ToS, it’s still your fault! Because you were bound by it the moment you used the Service!
Basically, YouTube just went, “Nope. Not my fault. Here’s your cocaine!”
However, you can argue you are simply denying a part of the Service. But that’s… murky at best. Because IT professionals in the programming field have told me it’s arguable that using ad blocker does modify the service, just not permanently.
Now, we’re going to step a little further into speculation here. Remember previously I talked about a third possible view counter aside from the video views and monetised view? It is – under the current conditions – entirely possible to have a “True” view counter.
Isn’t. This. Fucking. Amazing?
Those people who violated the ToS can actually be no longer considered a user, and thus, their views won’t count as views. This “True” view counter would minus off all these non-users. This new number would be how much possible monetised views content creators are getting.
When you factor all that in, it’s not a surprise that average content creators on YouTube can mathematically earn anywhere between $2,100 to $187.5K a year at best! That is nearly 9,000% in the margin of flexibility! Can you imagine your boss, handing you a pay cheque which could be worth anything between 1 and 9,000 dollars?
This is why this third possible view counter is the most terrifying. Though there are no proof of its existence, the fact that it, as a legal entity, can be allowed to exist, is crazy. It means that the moment you use ad blockers, you can be considered a non-user, and your views will not be counted, maybe even forever, because you violated the ToS. Even if you disable ad block, you might still not be counted. Content creators simply get squat!
Now, again, I need to reinforce that this may not be actually happening, but the fact that the possibility is there is frightening. And while I have not found anything within the ToS for AdSense, which is also a Google product, which powers a large percentage of the Internet’s advertising, it can be doing something similar by hiding the relevant ToS within ANOTHER ToS!
Because, remember, the ToS for YouTube wasn’t placed specially for the content creators becoming partners. In fact, if you were trying to become a YouTube partner, you might skip that portion because YouTube doesn’t mention it directly!
It’s there, but there’s this smokescreen that makes it legally ambiguous. All the conditions are there, but you might not be able to make the connection yourself, because the ToS, while applying to content creators as well, is largely meant for users in general. After using YouTube for so long, it is not something you think you’d need to see.
But simply using ad blocker possibly triggers all of this. Should we not, I don’t know, solve the problems all together? I mean, for an average of 20 second of our lives to watch a free video and help support content creators? Is it really that terrible?
And overall, the content creators gets the shortest end of the stick of this jig-saw system.
Sure, Google and host companies wins and advertisers wins too. But so do content creators, and it doesn’t stop the videos from being monetarily free for you. There’s a possible scenario here where everyone wins. But we decide to choose the one option where one group of people suffer terribly to satisfy our laziness?
3. Ad Blockers are Good?
Okay. Maybe you are arguing that it’s not the ad blockers’ fault. After all, those people could just want to help make life better for everyone else. I mean, look, Adblock Plus releases their source codes, and have a pay what you want system. How bad could they be?
How about blackmailing bad? It’s basically racketeering, which, unless you lived under a rock, is illegal.
Basically, what Adblock Plus (ABP) has done is that they charge larger companies to ‘allow’ ads that fits their ‘acceptable guidelines’. Using their users, they have engineered a situation where major websites are forced to accept their terms, or continue to lose money. This is, if you have any common sense, the basis of blackmailing.
But there’s a catch. And it’s a big one. Because, again, you are right, users.
ABP is not at fault.
See, it’s fine. Because all they did was provide a product. You, the users, used the product. You, the users, created the situation that we have today. You, the users, created a situation where ABP could sell their service to the companies.
And their service basically is, “Look, we can’t control what the people do. But for a little money, we can change our app to help you.”
It’s racketeering without the racketeering. It’s blackmail without the blackmail. ABP did not do anything. They don’t even own anything aside for the ad blocker. They didn’t take advertisement spaces and time. You did. You, the users, used their tools to steal the advertisements. ABP simply provided the lock picks. You picked the locks. After that, they go to the houses and offers ‘protection’. And why wouldn’t host companies pay for ‘protection’ when they were losing $887 million a year?
Isn’t. This. Fucking. Amazing?
While currently, only ABP has been shown to do this, their ability and willingness to do so is of great concern. They have basically set a precedence that, if left unchallenged, means other ad blockers are free to do the same thing.
And honestly, this whole thing is more complex than the war in Syria. The Acceptable Ads Program, which claims to pledge to support non-intrusive ads, have both Pagefair, a mostly anti-adblock group, and ABP together in it’s under-sign. If you think that’s weird, well, that’s because it completely is!
I’m not even going to start on header trackers and all the other nonsense. It’s complex enough as it is, even as I try to break everything down.
But, are ad blockers good? No, and yes. They are amoral at best. They are lock picks. You can choose to use them to break into someone’s house, or just to open doors when you forget your keys. But the companies and motives behind them are things you should definitely question. And how you use them determine whether you are good or bad.
Ad blockers have a place in today’s society. Even I use one. But I only use it when I enter sites with intrusive advertising (mostly when searching for porn).
You should check to see if your ad blocker has an intrusive advertising setting. If you use that, you will only block the ads of the most annoying kinds. Pop-ups, overlays, and pre-rolls. But a percentage of banner ads will continue their chug, providing some money to the websites and content creators. It’s not a great system, but if you’re really gung-ho about not having ads, this is the best halfway point I can give you.
In fact, it might reverse the trend of having intrusive ads, because banner ads will become more effective than pre-rolls, making them more likely to overtake pre-rolls and pop-ups!
This is now 3,000 words long. I know. It’s tedious. But bare with me. There’s only 1 page left and we will get through this. This last segment is the hardest thing to tackle.
Because it’s about good versus evil. It’s about morality.