Ad-block and the second precept

Thanks for correcting my misunderstanding. :anjal:

I guess it depends! As a mendicant, there will probably be few if any relevant adds, even on “careful” websites (as a lay person, I have seen very few relevant ads in my life). On a related note, when I do need to buy something, I prefer to search for that thing on Ecosia and clicking on their ads. That way, at least part of the ad revenue goes toward planting trees. :evergreen_tree: :evergreen_tree: :evergreen_tree: In any case, I feel no ethical obligation to conform to the structures of “consumer capitalism”. On a larger scale, if ad income doesn’t work for an organization which does useful work (like the Guardian)… they should find other executives, another business model, someone to acquire them (like the Washington Post did)…

And, as @karl_lew mentioned below, donating to orgs such as the Guardian is a wonderful option (and a form of dana). :slightly_smiling_face:


I support Guardian by just sending them money now and then. This is independent of the ads, which are quite annoying. I am paying for content, not for ads. I also don’t bother with ad-blockers, I just exercise sense restraint. It’s actually good practice–acknowledge the ad and let it pass. Ads have taught us all sense restraint. Ads are therefore wonderful. The funniest ones are the ones that advertise things I don’t want. :laughing:

Thank you world for all the wonderful ads. Keep them coming! An ad is just a gentle reminder and enumeration of things we don’t need. Ads are the sum of all wishes to be relinquished. :meditation:


Different approaches, same result. :slightly_smiling_face: :thaibuddha: :blossom:


Advertisers and content providers are aware of ad blockers and calculate them into their business models. Advertising rates are calculated using a variety of considerations. Lost revenue from ad blockers is figured into overhead and is treated as part of the cost of doing business. If no one used ad blockers there would be a lot more ads pushed out which takes up bandwidth. Content providers might have to pay for additional bandwidth which would offset any meager additional revenue they received from ad clicks.


Absolutely not, not according to the law, to ethics, or to the Vinaya.

On the contrary, I would argue that each of us has a moral imperative to use ad-blockers.

The advertising industry, especially through its dominance of the internet, is bad for humanity. Its basic purpose is to fuel desire, which drives greed, consumption, and the destruction of the planet.

Ads themselves, quite apart from their effects, directly contribute to global warming, using roughly 10% of the energy on the internet. In 2016 the CO2 emissions of ads was estimated at 60 megatonnes. That’s 60,000,000,000kg of CO2.

Moreover, the advertising industry has led the way in creating a global surveillance network, collecting industrial quantities of data on everyone and selling it to the highest bidder. Apart from the obvious creep factor, this threatens democracy and human rights.

While sites will ask you to support their little venture by enabling ads, the reality is that for all the money in advertising (projected to top US$600B this year), the vast bulk ends up in the pockets of huge corporations. Google and Facebook between them make up 60% of internet ads in the US, with Google alone raking in over $30B in profit for ads. (Graphic below)

The corrosive effects of online advertising were understood by 1998:

In general, it could be argued from the consumer point of view that the better the search engine is, the fewer advertisements will be needed … the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is crucial to have a competitive search engine that is transparent and in the academic realm.

That’s the words of Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page in their seminal paper for Stanford outlining their vision for Google.

Perhaps the greatest harm of online advertising, however, is that it is so retrograde and just plain bad. It encourages the worst of human nature. So long as companies rely on ads, there is no incentive to find a better way. The tech industry prides itself on being innovative. The whole shtick of neoliberalism is that capitalism provides for the efficient allocating of resources. But online advertising is neither efficient nor innovative.

From the time the Xanadu project started in 1960 there has been a dream of an interconnected web of information, with an ability to provide efficient payments for content creators. Instead, we have this firehose of shit: hostile, ugly, creepy, unusable. It treats all of us not as human beings, or even as customers, but as marks to be exploited and used.

Do the world a favor, get an ad-blocker. And while you’re at it, Privacy Badger.


sadhu, sadhu, sadhu!

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Thanks for taking the time @sujato Much appreciated.

I hadn’t heard of Privacy Badger, so thank you. I have used the track this website, where you pick an alter ego and then it will open 100 links in your browser associated with that alter ego, effectively subverting ad tracking. The alter ego Doomsday Prepper was my favourite, but that is probably the new normal :wink:


Nice, it’s both spiritually accurate and liable to get you on an NSA watchlist.


How often have you clicked on an ad in the past and have you ever bought something after clicking? If never, your intent is pretty obvious to me.

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I’ve never really used Facebook so I don’t know what it’s like. Looking at the graphic for Facebook, it states that the majority of income comes from ads. How does that work? I thought that Facebook made most of its money from selling user information, habits, preferences and proclivities. I didn’t know that Facebook had ads.

I have a similar question:

I downloaded a lot (a lot!) of music and such off torrent sites, I think they are called.
Is downloading music and such from online considered stealing?
I always wondered if I incurred heavy bad karma of stealing by downloading music for free online. At the time, it seemed like “all the other kids did it too” - but the laws of kamma don’t seem to bend regardless of how many beings transgress it.

I’m not sure that advertising works quite like that. I certainly see things in ads and think “I wonder what that is?” The image and graphics and words might get lodged in my mind and then I might find out what it is when someone else is talking about it. Then I might think “that sounds very useful”. And from there I might notice the ad more. And it will gnaw away at me a little more. Then I’ll do a bit of research until I eventually think “I’ll get me one of those”.

To be honest there was probably quite a lot of that sort of thinking in me finding out about and getting the ad-blocker itself. Although I should say that the ad-blocker I use is free open source software (it’s called pi-hole) and blocks ads, so I’ll argue that it is genuinely useful. :wink: But my mind has surely been manipulated into wanting it and installing it on an old raspberry pi, and setting it up to work on my entire home network, maintaining it when it goes wrong, etc…

You’d be better off downloading copyrighted sutta translations :wink:

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:grin: :laughing:

I don’t download music and such anymore because most of it is freely available on YouTube and such.
I am curious whether my past actions were harmful in terms of transgressing the second precept.

This might help: Is downloading books online for free bad kamma?

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How about, Is downloading books/anything, that is not freely given, bad kamma?

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I know we’ve moved away from the original topic, but the nature of the internet is that everything is freely given unless it’s behind a paywall. But that doesn’t mean that the person giving has the right to make them freely given. Copyright laws apply the secular ‘ownership’ clause that is talked about in the solution to the other thread I linked to.

If I steal an apple and give it to a bhikkhuni, does the bhikkhuni incur bad kamma? Probably no? What if the bhikkhuni knows it’s a stolen apple? Probably yes?


Hopefully this doesn’t go too far from the OP (there is an adblocker for Facebook, too).
When people say that Facebook sells user information, I’m not sure that is exactly true in most cases. It wants to guard that information to keep for itself. People who buy ads on facebook are telling the characteristics of the people they hope will see the ad. So for example if you are trying to get people to vote for, I don’t know, say, Brexit, you could say “I want to show this ad to people who have never gone to university, who have never lived outside of the UK, are over 50, and who currently live within 200km of their birthplace.” Ta-da! For literally pennies you can show your disinformation ad to exactly the right people.

The ad shows up in their feed with a tiny gray, “Sponsored” notice. Easy to miss if you are over 50. :slight_smile:

This is what makes it so evil when misused. People who would challenge the disinformation publicly never even see the ad.


Thank you for that explanation, Snowbird. Unfortunately, it appears that many at Facebook are generating some really bad karma.

Interesting to note that according to Vinaya, receiving stolen goods is not an offense (IIRC!). Whether that relates to kamma at all is, of course, a different matter. It may be just a technicality, but I haven’t studied it closely.

I mean, this may be technically true in some sense, but not in a good way.

From a Facebook spokesperson:

Does Facebook sell your data?
No. Facebook uses your data to sell access to you.

Does Facebook share your data with businesses or advertisers?
Outside businesses can collect your data if you grant them permission

Then of course, it depends on whether you believe anything that Facebook says. Here’s what Mark Zuckerberg said in private messages in the early days. Never forget.

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it.
Zuck: I don’t know why.
Zuck: They “trust me”
Zuck: Dumb fucks

So as a facebook user, or “DF” as Zuck thinks of you, then you are trusting that that guy has your best interests at heart. He says he has changed, but the long and detailed history of FB’s abuse of its users speaks to a different story:

Here’s Zuckerberg answering questions from AOC on fact checking and other issues.