Feature image courtesy of Beck Diefenbach | Reuters

Google is killing ad blockers. Google Chrome, perhaps the the world’s most popular browser, is getting some updates later this year. The Google deemed “Manifest” system, which is effectively lines of code that Chrome browser extensions use for functionality, will be updated to version “v3”. Google announced that with the currents plans for the Manifest V3 update slated for later in 2019, ad blockers would lose most if not all functionality.

And people aren’t happy.

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Edit 2020/02/06: LastPass is mentioned as a password manager. For the sake of privacy and journalistic integrity, BitWarden is recommended over LastPass.

Am I Affected?

This won’t just apply to Chrome, but all browsers that are based on Chromium. A full list you can find here, but notable browsers are :

  • Google Chrome (duh)
  • Microsoft Edge (eventually)
  • Opera

As all of these browsers are powered by Chromium, they will be affected by the same Manifest update, and they will lose ad-block functionality. So, why does this matter? Don’t most sites ask you to turn off an ad blocker anyway? Yes, however, ads can be a form of distributing malware, and are just flat out annoying. Especially considering how many ads are auto-play videos.

While ad block functionality would still be retained on enterprise editions of Chrome, if you’re not lucky enough to have an enterprise edition of Chrome, the impending Manifest update leaves you with two options: deal with the gimped ad block functionality that Chromium will eventually offer, or switch to a none Chromium based browser. A metaphorical vote with your wallet, so to speak.

And perhaps the most notable of non-Chromium browsers is: Mozilla’s Firefox. The best time to switch is today.

Making The Switch

Downloading and installing Firefox should be easy enough, and even allows you to import bookmarks from Chrome into Firefox. And if you’d like to use Firefox across several devices, creating an account in Firefox to sync is straightforward as well. Past this point, you’re ready to start browsing just like you would in Chrome, but you may want to pick up a few extensions. Here are a few recommendations that not only include an essential ad blocker, but also go an extra step to protect your privacy at least on a base level.

uBlock Origin: uBlock Origin is a lightweight, plug and play quintessential ad blocker that does its job extremely well, and is even customizable for those needing additional functionality. This is also a familiar face if you’re switching from Chrome, as the extension is currently available to not only Firefox users, but Chromium users as well. uBlock Origin is possibly the best ad blocker out there right now, and is an absolute need to have to improve your browsing experience.

Privacy Possum: Companies track you online. There. I said it. While this may or not be news to you, the practice is done to better target ads to your preferences. I.E why you may see ads for shampoo after googling hair care products. For those who are privacy oriented, this  may make you uncomfortable. This is where Privacy Possum comes in. Privacy Possum not only reduces the data collected by companies, but also falsifies information sent to them.

HTTPS Everywhere: Most sites now days support HTTPS, a method of encrypting communications between you and the website you’re accessing. However, not all sites automatically use it, with the proper practice being to have to type “https://” into your address bar before visiting every site you want to go to. Gets tedious after a while. HTTPS Everywhere fixes this by automatically redirecting your urls to use their https variant.

Decentraleyes: Another plug and play extension to supplement uBlock Origin or whatever other ad blocker you’re running. It’s common for websites have you load essential parts by having you request said parts through third party services like Google Hosted Libraries. Decentraleyes bundles the most commonly used files and allows you to load them locally, instead of having to request a third party service to load whatever files are needed.

Cookie AutoDelete: More of a house keeping extension than anything, Cookie AutoDelete simply deletes any unused cookies when you close your browser tab. If the deletion of a certain cookie is annoying you (i.e having to keep signing into Google every time you open your browser) then the extension offers whitelist functionality so you can still keep whatever cookies you want on your plate.

Image result for Firefox

Mozilla Inc

Quality Of Life

While we’re on the subject of Firefox extensions, there are two that don’t directly relate to privacy, but are still useful to have around:

LastPass: LastPass is a password manager that has you create one master password to sign in to your “vault” where you can access stored passwords for various other sites. Perhaps one of the most useful features of LastPass is the auto-password generator, where it will create a totally random password that meets certain specifications. Having your password not contain a competent word or series of characters significantly reduces your chances of having an account breached. So use LastPass to generate and store  passwords for various websites, and either directly copy the password into the sign in field, or have LastPass fill in the field for you. LastPass is also available on iOS and Android, so you can access your passwords while on mobile.

Honey: Honey automatically fills in the best coupon code it can find for whatever online store you’re at. It’s really that simple.

Ready To Go

With these extensions in hand, your browsing experience is now more secure and more convenient. Firefox should seem familiar, and after switching, I can say in my personal experience hasn’t been a detriment to me in anyway. Perhaps the most annoying thing would be having to sign in to things again, but that comes with time. However, it should be said that if a website is behaving abnormally for you, it may be due to the aggression of one of the above extensions. While problems are few and far between, they do still happen, and is an act of disabling one by one until you nail down the culprit to fix it. Privacy Possum tends to be a prime suspect, and I usually start with that one. And if you’d like to go the further mile for privacy, a VPN is always a good option to consider.

And, as previously mentioned, ads are annoying. We at Culture of Gaming totally get that. And while we’d appreciate you turning off your ad blocker for us, we understand why you use it. If you’d like to support us, then consider donating to our twitch channel while we are streaming.

If you’d like to read more articles like this one, head on over to our Tech Section.

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