New browser extension warns you when articles are paid for by advertisers

New browser extension warns you when articles are paid for by advertisers
NOTE: The article has at its conclusion a linkie to a video. Here you go:
Now the article:
“New browser extension warns you when articles are paid for by advertisers

Ian Paul @ianpaul Aug 21, 2014 9:15 AMe-mailprint
You can get browser extensions to stop advertisers from tracking you, but until now there hasn’t been one that can prevent you from getting suckered by hucksters on news sites.

Thanks to the Internet, journalism’s core funding models of subscriptions and advertising are not what they used to be. Trying to find new ways to make money, publications–including PCWorld and its sister sites–are trying out other sources of revenue such as sponsored posts, also known as “native advertising.”

These are articles written and published along with regular news articles, but are either written by or for an advertiser. Sponsored posts are only a few years old and publications are still grappling with how to mark what is sponsored content and what is not.

To help online news junkies see the difference between sponsored posts and regular articles, Google Product Engineer Ian Webster created a sponsored post-sniffing browser extension in his spare time.

The result is AdDetector, a simple extension available in the Chrome Web Store or Mozilla’s add-ons gallery for Firefox. Once it’s installed, AdDetector scans web pages you visit to ferret out ads. When it does find a sponsored article, the extensions displays a large red banner at the top of the page. If the extension can determine the sponsor’s name it will display that, too.

Webster recently told The Wall Street Journal that comedian John Oliver helped inspire the extension. The British satirist recently took native advertising to task during one of his epic rants on the HBO show Last Week Tonight.

An article sponsored by Cheerios on BuzzFeed.

Webster’s aim isn’t necessarily to keep you away from that fun BuzzFeed article about 14 modern keepsakes to give to your future children. Instead, he’s trying to inject more transparency about which articles are sponsored and which are not.

AdDetector’s red banner can be very useful since some websites try to play down an article’s sponsorship by putting a notice off to the side of main copy, blending the sponsorship notice with the general design of article, or marking it as sponsored at a relatively small font size. That may hide sponsorship notices from human eyes, but not a computer program scanning for hints of native ads.

Well, most of the time.

Venturing out onto the web with AdDetector installed, the extension easily identified sponsored content from BuzzFeed, The Washington Post, and others. Interestingly, however, it failed to alert me when I visited a sponsored post here on PCWorld as well as a video on The Atlantic’s site.

Although AdDetector does have to run on most pages you visit to do its job, Webster says your browsing data is never used, stored, or transmitted. The code for the extension is also up on GitHub for anyone that wants to take a look.

Speaking of having a look, here’s the scathing John Oliver rant that spurred the creation of AdDetector.””<<>>

Ebola is only the beginning…

The utter collapse of all health care in west Africa means the horrors of Ebola are only the beginning….

“But Ebola is a warning sign of a much bigger crisis: the fragility of African health and sanitation systems after many years of poverty, illiteracy, neglect and, in some countries, catastrophic civil war. Even in countries that have recently seen impressive economic growth and foreign investment, the money is failing to reach the hospitals and health-care workers who can prevent disease outbreaks.

“Government authority has been almost non-existent in many West African regions, including, crucially, the border crossings in the Ebola hot zone where a million people live. Hospitals and clinics, meanwhile, are severely under-staffed, suffer from shortages of equipment (even such basics as disposable rubber gloves) and medicine, and often lack even electricity and running water.

“Everywhere the signs of state collapse have been exposed. Bodies of Ebola victims, often lie uncollected in homes and streets for days at a time. Some hospitals have been completely abandoned after staff and patients fled. Quarantine efforts sometimes fail because people simply walk around the checkpoints.

“The spread of Ebola out from the villages of southern Guinea, the source of the current outbreak, was fueled by a similar state failure. Guineas first cases were confirmed in March, and by April the virus was taking hold. But the health system was so inadequate, and ignorance so widespread, that many people with the Ebola virus decided to cross over the poorly controlled border to Sierra Leone, where they sought treatment from a herbalist who claimed to have the power to cure Ebola.

“Instead of curing others, she soon became infected with the Ebola virus and died. Mourners at her funeral then spread the disease across the region, according to published reports. The herbalists death led to hundreds of new cases of the disease in Sierra Leone.”