Talking tech since 2003

Native ads––a form of advertising that disguises products as genuine news––are slowly becoming a reality of the web. But, and this is by design, they’re sometimes very hard to distinguish from real content. A browser extension entitled AdDetector is working to solve that problem.

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I mean, I expect it from BuzzFeed.

AdDetector was created by Google engineer Ian Webster. Once you install it, whenever your cruising the web and stumble upon a native ad, a big red banner appears at the top of the screen. It warns you that it’s a native ad, tells you who sponsored it, and follows you as you scroll down the page. It currently works on 50 sites, including Buzzfeed, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. It is only available for Chrome and Firefox.

Why is AdDetector necessary? It sort of boils down to questions of ethics. For a long time, there’s been a separation between the business side of journalism, and the journalism side of journalism. This is intended to discourage conflicts of interest, to prevent bias, and generally maintain journalistic integrity. Native advertising has been criticized as a breach of this unspoken contract. Also, it’s just kind of deceitful. The whole premise is to fool a reader into thinking that they’re reading actual, relevant news when, in fact, they’re being sold a product. John Oliver sums it up quite succinctly in the video below.

So if you’re interested in never being fooled, AdDetector is a good download. While sponsored content IS required to be labeled, it’s certainly not labeled as clearly as a big red banner that follows you down the page.

[theverge]

 


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