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Home » Hacking News » Internet Pop-Up Ads Are Unavoidable

Internet Pop-Up Ads Are Unavoidable

by ivy on June 13th, 2001 Death and taxes used to be the only guarantees, but now Internet advertising has joined the club.

What started out as (comparatively) discreet, Band-Aid-sized banners on Web sites have become a free-for-all of pop-ups, pop-unders and ads that masquerade as Windows error messages or make rude and annoying noises.

Not that advertising is, in itself, bad. Ads fuel much of the economy and underlie a lot of paychecks. But just because technology allows an ad to almost grab you by the ears and scream a buy-me pitch doesn't mean it's right or ethical to do so.

Pop-up ads appear as windows in your Internet browser when you load a page you want to see. They can be closed by clicking on the ``X'' like any Windows frame, but that gets old quickly.

Pop-unders are windows that open underneath your browser, so when you close your browser, the screen displays the pitch and your Internet connection remains active.

So unless you pay attention, telephone toll charges keep growing, even though you thought you closed your browser and ended the session.

Isn't that illegal? Not at all, say the folks at X10 Wireless Technologies, Inc., of Seattle, Wash. Their Web site,, tells us that "...instead of 'popping-up' on top of what you're looking at, our ads 'pop-under' what you're looking at. This helps with your overall Web viewing experience.''

Yeah, sure. The same way telemarketers help with our overall telephone experience. Or blisters help with our overall walking experience.

X10 isn't the only advertiser doing pops, it's just one of the more noticeable ones — the sixth-most visited site for the week ending June 3 according to Jupiter Media Metrix. And the site does offer relief of a sort. You can click to get a cookie that will block the ads for 30 days. A cookie is an application or data file that a Web site puts on your computer's hard drive.

Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape's browser offer the option of accepting or declining all cookies.

So what to do if you don't want pops, under or over?

There are no complete solutions. Ad-blocking software is available but it's part of the eternal race between locksmiths and lockpicks — the very existence of a door challenges some to open it. And there are subscription-based Web sites that don't accept advertising, but for now at least, most of the sites trying to make money on the Web are pumping ads.

You could disable JavaScript in your Internet browser. The upside is that this will block pop-ups and other forms of overt ads. The downside is that it will also block JavaScript applications that you actually want to see — and Web designers are using more and more of them all the time.

For those willing to put up with the downside to avoid being "popped,'' here's how:

For Netscape users, click on Edit on the top of the screen, then Preference in the drop-down menu, and Advanced in the Preferences directory. Unclick the box that enables JavaScript.

For Internet Explorer users, click on Tools at the top of the screen, then Internet Options in the drop-down menu. Click on the Security Tab and highlight the globe icon that says Internet. Click on the Custom Level button an unclick JavaScript.

There is one other way to deal with annoying ads — don't buy the product.

written by Larry Blasko for AP

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