Ghostery supports the decision to pull Peace ad blocker, which used its script library

The decision by developer Marco Arment to voluntarily pull his iOS 9 ad blocker, Peace, earlier this week got a public show of support by Ghostery, the maker of the scripting tools licensed by Arment. Ghostery says:

Both we and Marco feel that the way Peace was being used compromised the neutrality that Ghostery is built on.Specifically, the black and white, all on/all off approach to content blocking in Peace ran counter to our core belief that these aren't black and white decisions. With the currently limited flexibility of the user experience, we both felt it best not to continue to sell or support the app. Ghostery is based on giving the consumer the choice as to what they block and when. Ghostery doesn't block ads or any other content by default. That's too subjective a call. If there are objective measures for what types of tracking should be blocked, then that's an option we'll pursue. Right now, however, we didn't feel that we had the mix right in Peace. Marco agreed.

Ghostery added that it feels there are still some issues with the current state of the online ad industry and that it will continue to work on these problems with its other products.

Source: Ghostery (opens in new tab)

John Callaham

I have been writing professionally about technology and gaming news for 14 years.

  • This is ridiculous. I read the whole post from Ghostery and they are using terms straight from the corporate double speak handbook. Fortunately we can see through all of this. I've lost respect for many people throughout this iOS roll out as so many people I follow still refuse to get what's happening. We are sick of being spoken down to. Sick of sneaky advertising. And bloody sick of having our browsing experience dirtied by snake oil ads and worse. Yet so many folks want to paint users rushing to ad blockers as spoiled or actually trying to steal content. Yet here's a group (Ghostery) who purport to being on the side of users but when their database is suddenly being used to actively block this crap they turn tail and run.
    Shame on them, shame on Mr. Arment for this debacle. You've lost me sir, I won't be reading your blog or listening to your podcast anymore.
    Too bad more tech people won't follow the example of Mr. Rene Ritchie. Openly admitting to feeling the pressure of this but openly admitting he understands users frustrations. Classy guy who has never crapped on his viewers/listeners/readers. He knows it's important to show respect and he will come out of this looking a lot better then many of his peers. Sent from the iMore App
  • I agree completely, I don't understand how they went through all the development and testing and then realized after launch that it would block all ads. Something about Marco rubs me the wrong way. I bought overcast, but that will be the only and last purchase I make of his apps.
  • Not really! Otherwise there would not have been a refund offered by Marco.
    This is clearly a case where Marco got a backlash from his 'peers' in the tech industry who's revenue from advertising was being threatened by 'Peace'. Did he lose friends? Is he going to win them back by pulling out the app? No one knows. But he did what he felt was the right thing to do. Sent from the iMore App
  • Marco was probably developing this for weeks, and he probably spoke to his peers. Funny how he releases the App then has a change of heart 2 days later. The who thing stinks of Marco playing politics, if he next comes out blaming Apple for facilitating content blocking we'll all know what he was up to. Marco himself is not offering the refund, he's just urged people to claim one from Apple. How many will know the App has been pulled ? How many will know of the post and how many will claim ? My feeling is that Marco is a complete Sh*t for releasing the App after probably planning and developing it for weeks the pulling it after 2 days.
  • Your reply is nonsense, Apple refund users from the developer's account. Marco tweeted a screen grab of the amount he lost on refunds yesterday, and it's not an amount that i believe would probably choose to give up yourself.
  • That's great, so yesterday when he tweeted in response to someone asking to show how much he made, he responded he wasn't going to share that info. Now he decides to share that refund info, convenient but it would be interesting to put it into context by knowing how much he made from people who might not even know that he's pulled the app and won't be supporting it.
  • Apple will refund if you apply
    a lot of people are not aware of the process
    a lot of the people who purchased Marco's app will not know he's abandoned it and as such there will be a low refund rate
  • Not sure I believe that though. He HAD to offer a refund or the whole thing would've looked like a cash grab.
  • We've been using ad blockers for years on the desktop. I'm not sure why this is a story. The majority on each still won't know to use such blockers. This is only educating them. You'd think Apple invented ad blocking or something.
  • Yes we have, but the mobile web was kind of the "final frontier" for advertising companies since iOS had never supported a way to block ads.
  • Completely agree. Complete BS. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • This man's behaviour is that of an arrogant a...ho.. He ignores entirely his user base. For reasons that are more than sinistre.
    First, he uses his reputation to sell the app, then he discovers his conscience. I simply do not believe this. Meanwhile, he has piled up a heap of money. I do not believe that more then ten percent go and ask for a refund. Shame on You, Mr Arment, and shame on Your mannerisms. Ads suck, and it is high time that someone rise and act against them.
  • I dowloaded peace to my iPhone and iPad. So does it still work or not? Cry me a river with these ads trying to take over the browsing experience. Like someone coming to your door to sell you something and putting their foot in the door after you say no thank you. Too aggressive! Update: I just looked at some sites using safari on my iPhone and no ads are showing with peace.
  • It will still work they just won't update it anymore
  • Yes it will still work, but no support at all or updating. You can request a refund if you chose to. Personally, I would, then I would purchase Purify. Why pay someone that isn't supporting your app two days after launch?
  • Thanks, I will request a refund.
  • I did just that and already received it.
  • Yep. Got the refund approved. $3.24 coming back.
  • My feeling is the ad companies and website owners have done this to themselves. The ad companies putting the garbage ads out there and the website allowing the garbage ads to cause their site to just bog down.
    If the site has so much crap on it that I'm afraid to even scroll or made to scroll to see the content that's on the ads and website.
    The ad companies and websites created this mess so I think it's up to them to figure out how to fix it.
    Maybe if it hadn't been abused then we wouldn't have seen a content blocker go to number one on the App Store so quick.
    Before we start with the need to pay for content I have subscription to Washington post, nyt and wsj so I don't mind paying for my news. Granted I buy the subs when I see a price reduction. Sent from the iMore App
  • I want to be clear I'm not blaming the content providers here at mobile nations. I think Rene here at iMore and Phil at Android Central and Blaze at Crackberry do a great job at providing their readers great content. Garbage ads falls onto the website owner allowing it to continue.
    I think Rene has been very upfront that something needs to be done with how some of the ads are presented to us.
    I'm assuming and hoping that decisions about content is kept separate from the decision making on ads.
    If content blockers cut to much into the income of the website owners then they will have to rethink their business model. No different than the checkout person at Walmart when self checkout came along. Or the manual machinist when CNC machines took over Or the factory worker when robots took over mass manufacturing.
    Welcome to technology. Shit is always changing.
  • Rene and iMore are between a rock and a hard place, they are not big enough to have dedicated Ad sales teams, and thus rely on the other players in the market to provide them with a selection of Ads The issues I have with the current Ad providing models used by most sites are
    1) Amount of Data used by the Ads and scripts (I've seen more used by Ads on some sites than the site content themselves)
    2) The level of tracking (I don't believe any honour the 'Do Not Track' setting of the browser)
    3) The amount of 3rd Party script/code used (some times it goes to lots of different sites)
    4) The use of Flash on some Ads In the mobile world I pay for data , so #1 is a big factor in decisions, especially as some sites can load 5x faster if you disable Ad content. From a security (of PC/Mac) options #3 and #4 are my biggest worry, we've already seen some Malware served from Ad related activities, as such this needs to be resolved. If my PC gets infected, or I detect Malware when I browse a website (e.g. iMore) I will blame the Website, not the Ad network they use. As such the reputation of the Website can suffer because of poor security of any Ad related stuff (especially the often reliance on external scripting libraries) The refusal of Ad Networks to honour the 'Do Not Track' setting has probably prompted Apple to allow content blockers as a means to allow users to control the level of privacy they have. As such to a level the Ad companies have brought this on themselves. It's the sites like iMore that will suffer for their (Ad network's) arrogance.
  • This group of "journalists" and developers that we read and listen too is such an incestuous group that I don't know what to believe anymore. Is Marco so stupid that he did not realize until a day after the app is released that it, um, blocks ads? It's a content blocker. And if he doesn't like the all or none part of the app then why develop it in that manner. Something else is going on here. Remember, Marco Arment's friends make money from these terrible web ads that his app was blocking. Don't believe anything that comes out of his mouth or anyone associated with him when it comes to this story.
  • Incestuos is the perfect term here! Just a group of buddies all watching each other for the proper reaction to everything. Any thinking outside the herd mentality and this is the result. We made these people somewhat famous and they let it go straight to their heads. The good thing is they are stating their positions clearly and now we can reevaluate our collective hero worshipping. I'm embarrassed that I felt, by listening and reading, that I was part of a community, part of the in crowd. Turns out some of these people had no respect for me or couldn't care less about my experience. I just want use my expensive devices with my expensive data without the sleazy, insulting ads. Now I'm a thief? Trying to get content for free? I never agreed to this prior arrangement, I never said I'd view anything and everything you put in front of me. I never complied you just assumed. Let the chips fall where they may. I can ride this out, my income comes from an honest day's work, if all the 'free' content dries up then I will subscribe to a few good sites. So instead of hundreds of 'journalists' getting their content in front of me only a few will. And guess what? In that situation I'm the winner.
  • That's probably what should happen. The market has a way of taking care of things. We all have to adapt.
  • I don't understand what was preventing Marco Arment from developing Peace similar to 1Blocker (which allows blocking per ad/tracker network) if he had such a problem with the "all in or all out" approach?
  • He just wanted to make a quick buck. Don't improve the app. Don't support customers. Take the money from first-weekend sales, which is the peak for all popular apps, then just F all your customers.
  • This whole affaire stinks. My guess is Ghosterys parent company got some angry inquiries from their biggest clients on why their ads are being blocked by a company they are paying money to. Two days later, Peace is killed, Ghostery owns the codebase and the CEO of Ghostery calls the whole thing an "experiment" (odd that the consumers weren't aware they were paying $2.99 to be part of an experiment)
  • He didn't want to support his customers. He took the money from the initial burst of app popularity and ran away. He's a steaming pile of dung.
  • So, you don't like the way the app works? You can't fix it with an update? You just say "thanks for all the money, smell you later!" Which is less "moral" Marco: Blocking ad networks that steal our private information? Or taking $3 from who knows how many customers and giving them zero support? Gonna take Overcast off the app store as soon as people pay for it too? I am guessing there are two big REAL reasons you pulled this stunt (maybe some other minor underlying ones too). 1. Some blogger friends of yours whined that they will lose money. Never mind that they get money because ad networks steal their readers' information. 2. You realized how much support this app will actually require, and you didn't want to do the work. After all, most of a popular app's sales come within the first few days on the app store, so you already cashed in. Now, you don't have to bother with supporting customers. Take the money and run. What a total barf bag you are.
  • There are a few sites I do not let my adblocker (uBlock Origin) run, iMore is one of them, but it's because I can trust this site but I cannot say the same for the vast majority of sites out there. With malware delivered through ad networks and intrusive tracking methods, they can choke out and die for all I care. Find a VIABLE way to make the web work for all parties without slowing my browsing experience to a crawl or stealing every bit of data you can. Most of those "blog" networks that are crying run nothing but click bait garbage that jams up my search results.
  • I don't know if you realize this or not, but iMore (all of Mobile Nations, really) has tons of trackers on it. Probably more than any other site I visit. Of course at least Rene and Phil (ac) have mentioned that they are frustrated along with the users. You won't get malware here, but you will get everything else that goes along with trackers. Ghostery found 67 trackers on this site.
  • If you want to support imore, rene, serenity et al... Then buy the iBook versions of their main articles. I'm assuming this is their test run, along with the Apple music iBook, to see if they can generate extra revenue that way. The ad/tracker blocker speeds web browsing up so much it's undeniably the best extension to be allowed by Apple in years.
  • This site is awful same as the other mobile nations. Tons of trackers than other sites. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • The more I read about Marco the more I despise him. Sent from the iMore App
  • Peace had an option to whitelist sites as the user sees fit. If that isn't "giving the consumer the choice as to what they block and when" then Marco and Ghostery are floating some BS. What it sounds like is Marco was a little peeved he didn't force through certain ad networks he and friends used that can't be blocked. I really don't get why everyone's got there heads up their butts over this anyway. We've been ad blocking and script blocking on our desktops for years. Now all of a sudden everyone is having a stroke over this.
  • Tell me about it.
    Complete BS. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • "... Right now, however, we didn't feel that we had the mix right in Peace. Marco agreed." The articles I've read until now read like Marco pulled and Ghostery agreed. Way I read the above quote is Marco didn't pull it, Ghostery did and Marco agreed. Several people I told about launch/unI launch of Peace made the same remark: "who got paid to pull it?", and while I never had the impression that Marco can be bought (perhaps a little hate from his blogging friends influenced him), I could see where Ghostery might be.
  • Bang on, Robert.walker. That quote makes it clear Marco Arment pulled the app not through a belated attack of conscience, but on instruction from Ghostery. The motivation of Ghostery will likely come clear in time, but for now the bad smell is something both parties will have to live with.
  • Wasn't imore raving about this app a few days ago? Sent from the iMore App
  • The whole thing seems a little fishy. But whatever. I'm using crystal anyway.
  • Wow! for some reason two days ago I was in between peace and crystal and after checking both out and reading around, I went with crystal. Hope they don't pull out something like this. At least they're offering a refund. Sent from the iMore App
  • My take on this whole scenario is simply that I (and many others) completely disagree with the line that most tech sites are pushing, which is that there is a difference between "good ads" and "bad ads." All advertising is bullshit IMO. I'm with Banksy:
  • Wow, the lot of you sure are harsh and unforgiving. I can’t even buy lunch for three dollars. Look, I’m disappointed too. But I think Marco didn’t expect Peace to rocket to the top of the App Store like it did (after all, there are lots of blockers available), and it pushed him to confront issues that were easier to ignore if he had only a handful of users anyway. And then he realized that he didn’t have the dedication to the project that he thought he did, for whatever reason. Which is pretty much what he’s said. I guess you can all jump on your favorite conspiracy theory if you want to, but I think you’re the ones who are full of crap. Look, he’s human and he went through a process. It must be nice for you to be so damn perfect. Get your money back if it makes you feel better, but cripes, keep your bile for something more important.
  • He could not have decided to pull it 2 days earlier so we all don't have to go through refund requests? Why did those 2 extra days make such a BIG difference. Not like it only took him a day to write. I would imaging he has been working on this for a while, how come no change of pace then? O well, won't be purchasing an app designed or produced by him ever again. Hope your rep was worth it.