Chrome has been making changes to how ads are displayed in the browser for some time now. In the most recent update of Google’s browser, some autoplay videos will now be blocked, while others will be allowed automatically.
In a blog post, Google outlines how the new autoplay video update works. Now Chrome will learn your preferences when it comes to videos that autoplay with sound. Using your browsing history, Chrome will start enabling or disabling autoplay videos with sound. If you typically choose to play videos on certain websites, Chrome will allow autoplay videos to run with sound. If you typically don’t watch the videos on a site, Chrome will start disabling their autoplay videos with sound.
Even if you don’t have a browsing history, the blog post says, certain sites will have their autoplay videos enabled or disabled as you start building your history. Whichever sites have the most people clicking to play videos with sound will automatically be enabled for you until the browser learns that you don’t want videos played on those sites.
This update comes after Google has already implemented many other ways to avoid certain ads and mute sites that autoplay ads with sound. In February, Chrome’s ad blocking system went live. Their ad blocking is meant to start automatically blocking certain ads that don’t meet their standards. And in January, Chrome introduced a way to permanently mute sites instead of just temporarily muting them while the tab was open.
All of these changes mean Chrome should soon become the browser to use if you specifically want to avoid annoying ads and autoplay videos (especially if you don’t want to deal with browser add-ons). In their blog post, Google notes that their new autoplay video blocking system will block “about half” of the autoplay videos that users want to avoid. Though not a full block of autoplay videos, it should cut down significantly on the annoyance of sound suddenly blasting from your device.
With all the discussion of Facebook’s recent data scandal, third-party data is a major topic of discussion among social media services. (Find out more about Facebook’s difficulties, referred to as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in my article from last week.) Facebook is bringing a number of changes due to the scandal, most of which will restrict access to users’ data. Meanwhile, another social media giant is in the news for a somewhat puzzling reason, as it may soon be making third party access possible.
Here’s a rundown of just some of Facebook’s updates, as well as Snapchat’s recent news.
Facebook is ending their Partner Categories
Facebook is now ending their Partner Categories. According to TechCrunch, Facebook is going to stop using third-party data in its targeted advertising. With targeted ads, a number of different tools are used. Until now, Facebook had used data collected from third parties as one way to accurately target ads toward users. After the recent data scandal, though, Facebook is ending the practice. According to Entrepreneur, companies like Axciom and Experian were part of Facebook’s Partner Categories. TechCrunch notes that Facebook has said the decision is in place permanently, not just while they try to work their way through their current issues.
Facebook wants your help spotting data mining apps
Facebook is focusing heavily on finding apps that could misuse data gathered from their users. In fact, according to CNET, they will now pay users who find “data mining” apps. Facebook already had a program in place that rewarded people for finding other issues on the site. With this program, people could get paid for reporting apps that are using data in a way that breaks Facebook’s policies. CNET also notes that some “bug bounty programs” can offer rewards of up to $100,000.
Snapchat may let third party apps connect to your account
With the flurry of news around Facebook’s handling of third party data, news has come out that Snapchat may be planning to let third party apps connect to users’ accounts. Mashable has reported that the current beta version of Snapchat has a new feature called “Connected Apps.” Bitmoji and Shazam have already been able to connect to Snapchat accounts. But if this setting in Snapchat’s beta is any indication, more apps will soon be able to connect. Of course, just because it’s in beta doesn’t mean it will actually be released in full. Whatever happens, news of its inclusion in the beta app has come at a strange and unfortunate time.
Google is now making it easier to stop unwelcome auto-play audio and other annoyances. The new “Mute site” feature in Google Chrome’s latest update can put a stop to unwanted audio coming from the websites you visit.
The newest update to Chrome introduces the “Mute site” option on your tabs. If you open a website and a video begins to play automatically, all you have to do is right-click the tab, choose “Mute site,” and forget about it as the audio stops playing. As The Verge notes, in the past you could only temporarily mute a tab while you had it open. If you visited that site again, then, Chrome wouldn’t remember your preference, and you’d experience the awful irritation of having audio start blaring from your speakers unexpectedly.
With the ability to mute an entire site, though, you won’t have to worry about auto-play videos from that site again. Chrome will remember your preference, so every time you visit the site, audio will be muted. This is a huge help for people who really enjoy the content of a website but have to deal with a video playing in the corner every time they visit it.
Google has been talking about reducing annoyances from certain types of ads for quite some time. Just last month, they announced their own ad blocker would be coming in February (February 15, to be specific). That ad blocking feature will stop certain problem-causing ads, like video ads that auto-play, using certain ad standards.
Google also just updated some of their ad controls, as well. In a blog post, they describe how Google users can now mute reminder ads. This means if you do something like visit a shop online, you can stop seeing ads that follow you across the web reminding you to come back and finish your purchase. In addition, their “Mute This Ad” feature has been updated to remember which ads you’ve muted as long as you’re logged in to you account, as well as to make the feature available on more sites.
The “Mute site” feature will certainly make things easier and less frustrating for people who are regular visitors on certain sites that typically feature auto-playing ads. And the latest updates on ad settings from Google, plus the upcoming ad blocking for Chrome, will make it more convenient to navigate online without encountering unwanted, distracting ads.
Not a fan of ads? If you’re using Google Chrome, you’ll see less of them starting in February. Chrome will soon be implementing their own kind of ad blocking built in to the browser.
Chrome’s ad blocker will be out February 15th. It’s important to note it won’t be all-encompassing—The Verge notes that the blocked ads will specifically be ones that are “spammy or intrusive.” Chrome’s announcement outlines how the blocking process will work. They’ll be using the guidelines set by the Coalition for Better Ads to remove unwanted ads. Websites that are reported and are marked as “failing” will be blocked by Chrome if the issues aren’t taken care of within 30 days.
For those wanting to know more about the Coalition for Better Ads, their website gives a glimpse into their thought process. The Coalition focuses on solving the problem created by web users encountering ads that “disrupt their experience, interrupt content and slow browsing.” The website’s Standards page goes over issues like videos that play automatically, ads that cover a lot of the screen and stay in place, and “scroll-over ads” that take up a mobile device’s whole screen.
Chrome’s built-in ad blocking will hopefully take care of the worst offenders. But of course, Chrome users are already able to use extensions like AdBlock Plus to block more than just the most annoying ads. This leads to the question: will Chrome’s ad blocking be enough to keep people away from more extensive ad blockers? It’s important to note that if fewer ads are cropping up and doing particularly annoying things, people who were considering a full-blown ad blocker might decide not to bother with it. Chrome’s ad blocker will be built in, instead of calling for an extension to be downloaded.
Like Ars Technica points out, Chrome is a widely used and very popular browser, so integrating any sort of ad blocking into the browser “will have huge ripple effects across the Web.” Chrome’s ad blocking gives Chrome even more power over the advertising people see, and it might also make the browser more appealing to people who hadn’t decided whether to switch over. After February 15th, we’ll see how effective the new tool is and what difference it ultimately makes for Google.
Black Friday is fast approaching, and if you enjoy the rush of Black Friday shopping, it’s time to start planning out where to find the best deals. Black Friday is on November 24th this year, but of course, in recent years some businesses have started their deals earlier and earlier. Some stores actually open on Thanksgiving Day (November 23rd this year) instead of on Friday. And some places even run Black Friday deals all November long.
Whether you’re showing up to the stores in the early morning on Black Friday or checking out online deals all month long, you’ll want to have some options for catching big deals and comparing the deals between stores. There are print ads, of course, but many people now head to the web to figure out Black Friday deals.
If you only have a couple of stores you know you want to visit, then you might not particularly need any bookmarked websites or downloaded apps. But if you want to shop around different stores and see what a lot of them have to offer, check out some of these websites and apps.
- BFAds.net—features online and scanned ads, the option to add things to your favorites, guides, forums, and more
- BlackFriday.com—includes online and scanned ads, deal alerts, guides, and more
- TheBlackFriday.com—has online and scanned ads, ad alerts, the option to create a shopping list, and more
- Black Friday @ GottaDEAL—offers online and scanned ads, forums, a shopping list feature, deal alerts, and more
- Black Friday 2017 Ads Shopping—available in the App Store and specifically designed to follow Black Friday deals
- BlackFriday.com app—available through Google Play and in the app store; BlackFriday.com’s website in app form
- DealNews app—available through Google Play and in the App Store; an app designed to help users find deals that is useful despite not being created specifically for Black Friday
- Shopular—available through Google Play and in the App Store; another non-Black-Friday-specific shopping app that helps consumers find ads and promotions from stores