I was whittling down my backlog of Twitter likes the other day, and I clicked a link to Malawi24. Most likely I’d skimmed through my Twitter feed’s headlines while at work, saw an interesting-looking foreign news story, and marked it to read later.
Anyway, I clicked on it, and…
“Well, that’s informative,” I snarked to myself. “Oh, wait, I can see a link to the ad-blocking service on the bottom left. Maybe they have a persuasive argument or reassuring technical explanation as to why I should unblock them.”
Or maybe they don’t.
The main reason I use an ad blocker is to reduce the download size of web pages, because I do a lot of my browsing over a limited data connection, but I’m not oblivious to the security risk of letting anyone with a few bucks run code on my machine. So I’m going to have to be persuaded to unblock a site, and this isn’t persuasion. This is sticking your fingers in your ears and ignoring me until I change my mind.
I have no reason to change my mind. This was the first time I’d attempted to read a story from Malawi24, or I’d have noticed this problem before, so they haven’t exactly built up a lot of goodwill with me, earned my trust, or showed me work worth paying for.
“But Ray,” I can hear someone objecting already, “you aren’t paying for it.” No, I’d be giving some random third party time, attention, and unfettered access to my computer, and the third party would pay them. So I’d be paying them indirectly, in a more annoying and potentially dangerous way.
And no, there isn’t an option to pay for Malawi24’s work directly. There is a “donate” page, and here it is…
No. Just no.
There is a way to fool the ad-blocking servicce, but in the seconds it took me to find it I decided that it and Malawi24 aren’t worth even that little bit of effort.
And that’s why I unfollowed Malawi24. There are other news sources. And no, I’m not sorry about “costing” them the fraction of a cent they’d have gotten if I had unblocked their ads.
P.S. Speaking of security risks, Malawi24’s advertising business partner is Google Syndication, formerly known as DoubleClick. If you don’t already know about DoubleClick but have heard your tech-savvy acquaintances scorning it, just search “doubleclick malware” — here are three separate incidents I found reportage for in about a minute. I doubt very much that DoubleClick cleaned up its act after changing to a less-conspicuous brand name.