How to configure Adblock Plus’ Malware, Social Media Button and Tracking blocking

Adblock Plus is without doubt one of the most popular ad blocking tools on today's Internet. It is available for browsers such as Firefox, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome, as well as mobile devices and does a solid job at getting rid of many of the ads that you are exposed to normally on the Internet.

While I dislike the idea of blocking advertisement on all sites, considering that Ghacks depends on ads to stay on the Internet, I can fully understand that Internet users want to block annoying ads. I'd count popup ads and media ads to that category as they may break the flow of what you are doing.

The extension has been criticized recently for its "acceptable ads" guidelines which allow some ads to be displayed. I do not want to rehash all that has been said about that, only that you can disable that in the program options so that all advertisement is blocked again.

If you have installed Adblock Plus anew recently on a supported system, you may have noticed a new first run dialog that promotes other uses of the program.

I have tested this in both Firefox and Google Chrome, and both display the options on a first run page after installation. I'm not sure if existing Adblock Plus users see that page as well after they update their version.

adblock plus malware social media tracking blocking

You can enable additional features on the page. You may know that the program uses subscription lists for the blocking that you subscribe to, and technically, those three suggestions you find listed here are just that.

Malware Blocking

This list is powered by Malware Domains, a service that aims to block malware by blocking connections to domains that are known to distribute it.

It runs in addition to the browser's own protection, which may warn you about attack pages that you are about to visit.

The malware blocking in Adblock Plus does not display warnings on the other hand, it either blocks connections from happening outright, for instance if a clean page tries to load contents from a blocked site, or blocks the connection halfway-through when you visit a blocked domain.

Social Media Button blocking

Social Media buttons are everywhere, and yes, I'm also using them here on this site. They do have two main purposes for me: first, it gives site visitors options to share contents more easily. While experienced users won't have any problems sharing contents manually, many users do not share contents if no such buttons are displayed on the page.

Second, search engines may use those information as signals for a site's popularity, and a site without them may be doing worse than a site that is making use of them.

Anyway, if you do not use social media or never share contents, then you may want to block the buttons to avoid them from being displayed. It also gets rid of potential tracking issues and may increase the load time of websites.

The list that Adblock Plus uses is Fanboy's Social Blocking List.

Tracking blocking

The third and final option that you have is to disable tracking on the Internet. While it does not take care of all tracking, it blocks a large amount of ad companies from tracking your movement on the Internet.

The list is based on EasyPrivacy.

List locations

adblock plus custom filter

Here are the locations of the list. You can add those to your copy of Adblock Plus if you do not get the First Run dialog:

You need to add them as custom subscriptions in the filter preferences.

Closing Words

All three options have been available before, but you had to subscribe to those lists manually to make use of the functionality.

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Responses to How to configure Adblock Plus’ Malware, Social Media Button and Tracking blocking

  1. ank91 July 31, 2013 at 3:54 am #

    many thanks

  2. ank91 July 31, 2013 at 3:56 am #

    adblock plus no more support TYPO CORRECT?

    • Martin Brinkmann July 31, 2013 at 5:23 am #

      It is no longer part of Adblock Plus, only available as a separate extension.

  3. Mike July 31, 2013 at 4:37 am #

    Appreciate this, Martin - thank you very much.

  4. ilev July 31, 2013 at 4:40 am #

    Thanks Martin.

  5. Ficho July 31, 2013 at 5:04 am #

    Fanboy's Annoyance List
    https://easylist-downloads.adblockplus.org/fanboy-annoyance.txt

  6. ilev July 31, 2013 at 5:43 am #

    Disabling "Allow some non-intrusive advertising" doesn't always block ads as some companies, like Google and others, are paying Eyeo (Adblock) to add them to the white list and so bypassing any block.

  7. Dan July 31, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    I switched to Chrome Adblock when I heard Mr. Palant's deals with advertisers. I also prefer the Disconnect over Social and Tracking protection list. Indeed, if Disconnect has a robust adblocking capability, I would use it as my exclusive adblocker.

  8. Eli July 31, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    So I added that Malware Domains list and it has a bunch of snails on certain entries, whats that mean exactly, should I disable those/delete them?

    • Martin Brinkmann July 31, 2013 at 10:12 am #

      Two @@ mean that it is an exception so that what follows is not blocked by Adblock Plus.

  9. Jon July 31, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    This is great! Thanks.

  10. Richard Steven Hack July 31, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    The Element Hider came in handy on the forums at Superiorpics when they added a whole section for "more pics" below members' posts which was an incredible annoyance as it slowed the page load and also confused bulk image downloaders. Once someone posted instructions, I used Element Hider to remove that entire section from the page.

  11. RICHARD July 31, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    I FOUND THE PLACE TO ADD " Malware, Social & Tracking". GO TO
    https://adblockplus.org/en/tutorials#tracking. REAL EASY TO ADD THESE TO ADBLOCK+

  12. DBest July 31, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    Thanks for the article.

    If your options for the new lists do not pop up like it didn't for me, go here: https://adblockplus.org/en/features and manually add them.

  13. blue_bsod July 31, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    I add this custom filter to remove the ads and ticker in Facebook (works in Firefox and Chrome versions): apps.facebook.com###rightCol

  14. blue_bsod July 31, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    Also add the Firefox "Adblock Plus Element hider", to fully customize annoying stuff (doesn't have to be an ad) on some pages to make them load faster. I use it to block widgets and some scripts ie: calenders, chat boxes, live chat etc...

  15. Gonzo July 31, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

    I used Malware Domains DNS blocklist on my router a couple of years back. I felt it was too aggressive (false positives). It blocked abisource.com (home of AbiWord). I sent an email to the admin and it was promptly removed and he replied with an explanation as to why it was there in the first place. That was reassuring but after coming across a couple more I removed it.

    Given that ADP allows for a finer grain of control and the list is now apart of the default install I suspect it's much better now. I'll give it another look.

  16. jmjsquared August 1, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    Thanks for such an honest, forthright, informative article, especially its succinctly educating me on the effects my using such software has on favored sites like yours.

  17. Ganesh Narayan Gupta August 16, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

    Hello Martin,
    It is nice to read your article. Adblock plus is such a great utility which allows users uninterrupted browsing. I especially hate those pop-up ads and everyone do. I am using adblock plus on my PC, but its advanced and different options, I came to know from your post. I will look into them. Thanks for sharing :-)

  18. Anonymous November 10, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    ad-block plus and all this sort of plugins track you silently, the new malware-adware. they really hide ads but still track you

  19. Bill February 13, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    There is an other Chrome extension to replace ads with GRE Vocabulary words which I stumbled across on a reddit thread which uses less processes on chrome - http://redd.it/1xj2m0
    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/adblock-vocab/lbfmoajlkianapihjoccnjmflalimbln

  20. Xi August 21, 2014 at 8:50 am #

    @Martin Brinkmann: Please add the links to the description.
    These links manually open the first run page after the addon installation "chrome://adblockplus/content/ui/firstRun.html" in Firefox and "chrome-extension://ldcecbkkoecffmfljeihcmifjjdoepkn/firstRun.html" in Chrome and Opera.

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