The war against ad blockers didn’t start when users began using the software. It started when online outlets refused to understand that content is advertising and advertising is content, and if any part of that equation is bad, the whole thing falls apart. There’s a reason why users use ad blockers after all: many online ads suck harder than a vacuum cleaner looking for love. But they don’t have to. Everyone has their stories about ads they have liked or loved. Some readers will always block ads, but not most of them. If ads were good and fun, they wouldn’t need to be blocked and users wouldn’t want to block them.
Ad blockers are one of the few tools that we as users have if we want to push back against the perverse design logic that has cannibalized the soul of the Web. If enough of us used ad blockers, it could help force a systemic shift away from the attention economy altogether—and the ultimate benefit to our lives would not just be “better ads.” It would be better products: better informational environments that are fundamentally designed to be on our side, to respect our increasingly scarce attention, and to help us navigate under the stars of our own goals and values. Isn’t that what technology is for? Given all this, the question should not be whether ad blocking is ethical, but whether it is a moral obligation. — Why It’s OK to Block Ads, Practical Ethics (University of Oxford)