Brave Browser: content blocking changes to improve web compatibility

The developers of the Brave Browser revealed in a new blog post on the official company site that the browser's logic for blocking content will change inthe upcoming Brave Browser 1.30 version.

Brave includes a content blocker by default that blocks resources similarly to how content blocking extensions such as uBlock Origin operate.

Brave Shields, the browser's blocking feature, is set to a standard level of blocking by default. The component includes other protections, such as automatic connection upgrades from HTTP to HTTPS, and fingerprinting protections.

The blocking logic of the browser changes in Brave 1.30 in the following way:

In order to improve privacy and Web compatibility, Brave will by default not apply network level filter list blocking to same-site subresources, starting in version 1.30, or the Beta and Nightly versions at time of this posting

Brave continues to block third-party resources just like before, even in standard mode. The company notes that it has decided to roll out the change for two reasons. First, because it improved protections in Brave that limit first-party subresource tracking, and second, to reduce the number of times Brave users need to turn off the browser's Shields feature to access sites or use certain functionality on sites.

Dropping Brave Shields disables the browser's content blocking. All site resources are loaded in that case.

How can privacy be improved if the blocking is reduced in the standard configuration? The company has two explanations for that.

For one, it reduces the number of times Brave users need to turn off the Shields feature. Besides impacting the current connection to the site and all resources loaded on it, it could result in users forgetting to re-enable the protective feature; this would reduce privacy in future sessions as well.

For the second reason, Brave notes that there is not much benefit in regards to privacy when it comes to blocking first-party requests. The IP address is known to the site already, and the browser's other protective features offer privacy protections against other forms of tracking.

The change is applied to the default blocking behavior of the web browser only. Brave users who want to retain the previous blocking level may switch the blocking to aggressive, as it continues to block these first-party subresources.

brave 1.30 blocking settings

Brave published a table that highlights the blocking behavior and differences between the browser's standard and aggressive blocking modes:

Standard (default)Aggressive
Cosmetic filteringHide page elements related to third-party advertisingHide page elements related to first and/or third party advertising
Network filteringApply filter lists to all third-party sub-resource requestsApply filter lists to all sub-resource requests, first and third-party alike
Bounce trackingStrip known tracking query parameters from URLsStrip known tracking query parameters from URLs and warn users before navigating to suspected bounce tracking domains

Brave users who want to maintain the current level of blocking when using the browser need to set the blocking to aggressive.

  1. Load brave://settings/shields in the browser's address bar.
  2. Scroll down to the "Look & feel" section.
  3. Locate "Tackers & ads blocking" and switch it to Aggressive.

Closing Words

There is a fine line between protection settings and ensuring that sites load and function properly. The change to the standard blocking level allows first-party subrequests that were blocked previously because of the included filter lists. Users who want to retain the default blocking level need to switch it to aggressive in order to retain it.

Now You: do you use a browser with content blocking functionality? Did you run into site compatibility issues because of it or content blocking extensions?

Summary
Brave Browser: content blocking changes to improve web compatibility
Article Name
Brave Browser: content blocking changes to improve web compatibility
Description
The developers of the Brave Browser revealed in a new blog post on the official company site that the browser's logic for blocking content will change in the upcoming Brave Browser 1.30 version.
Author
Publisher
Ghacks Technology News
Logo
Advertisement

Previous Post: «

Comments

  1. ShintoPlasm said on September 2, 2021 at 9:23 am
    Reply

    Not too fussed about this (esp. since you can still tweak the level of adblocking), although I wish they’d enforce Aggressive mode on some websites by default. This should include Facebook and Google Search for sure.

    1. CompatWombat said on September 9, 2021 at 9:51 pm
      Reply

      Hilarious, all this blocking and non-blocking when they could just partition. Years behind Firefox

  2. Atharvan said on September 2, 2021 at 11:23 am
    Reply

    Check this bug in brave. Now Brave shield not blocking google ads properly. https://github.com/brave/brave-browser/issues/17785

    1. Iron Heart said on September 2, 2021 at 2:53 pm
      Reply

      @Atharvan

      The bug you’ve posted only exists when Brave Shields are set to “Standard”. Setting them to, or leaving them at “Standard” never made much sense because this “Standard” setting never covered 1st party ads.

    2. Anonymous said on September 2, 2021 at 7:08 pm
      Reply

      @Atharvan
      That post doesn’t make sense since usually those ads are cosmetic filters and Standard mode was made to exactly that, don’t apply cosmetics to 1p stuff and only 3p ads.
      That was the ONLY difference between aggressive and standard mode, now they are making the distinction about both modes, now Standard will properly allow 1p stuff and properly block 3p scripts and stuff like that and aggressive will be able to block both.

      The person is even using Stable Brave, and that’s because Standard in Nightly doesn’t block any google script because they are obviously all 1p stuff, so the person is not even using Nightly to even understand the situation and Standard will obviously allow 1p ads since it is not applying cosmetic filters.

      The only thing that makes sense of the post is saying how the default should be Aggressive, but it will break many sites like today (reason why they are changing how Standard works) so it would be better if it was asked on the start wizard what people want with cons and pros about the modes.

      Brave before aggressive mode was in place, they said they wanted to allow 1p stuff anyway, and they whitelisted many 1p stuff in the Brave unbreak adblock list, which you can easily see when you have uBlock installed and you go to duckduckgo, Brave allows analytics.

      So this change will finally bring they scratching all those entries that are 1p in aggressive mode and let standard allow them. That’s why the issue doesn’t make sense, the person is not using Nightly, the person doesn’t understand aggressive vs standard mode, and you don’t understand it either since you post it and you post it like “it doesn’t block what it should block” when it is actually doing what it should be doing, not apply cosmetics in 1p stuff.

      So now the change will be about 1p vs 3p stuff on aggressive vs standard. Now eventually aggressive mode will be fixed to stop allowing those unbreak brave whitelist stuff, so this change is good, since now Shield modes will be able to tell the difference between 1p vs 3p and work accordingly .

    3. Anonymous said on September 3, 2021 at 12:20 am
      Reply

      Presumably some advertising is domain linked. Brave needs to respond quickly or the purpose for using it becomes redundant. On the other hand, the location of those makes them very obvious. I’m in the habit of not reading a column in that part of screen. More of concern are advertising and paid position in search results. DON’T SEARCH USING GOOGLE.

  3. JonSnow said on September 2, 2021 at 12:28 pm
    Reply

    in other words…in order to earn more money from advertisement Brave wont block some website ads..that’s what I read.

    1. ChromeFan said on September 2, 2021 at 1:42 pm
      Reply

      That has been happening for a while, it is not new. When you have an advertising company build a browser, this is what happens.

      1. Iron Heart said on September 3, 2021 at 3:02 am
        Reply

        @ChromeFan

        First things first, I don’t think someone named “ChromeFan” has a right to complain about ad companies. You are using Google’s browser lmao.

        Secondly, you have no clue how Brave’s ads are generated. I will tell you, probably to no avail: Each Brave user periodically downloads a non-personalized list of ads. These ads consist of text and a hyperlink, and do not contain any tracking scripts. The ads, if you opt in, appear as system notifications. Whatever Brave does in relation to websites has nothing to do with its own ads. A local algorithm in Brave picks from the non-personalized list of ads by locally analyzing your browsing. No user data is being transmitted to Brave Software or any third party in the process, the optional ads shown are 100% locally picked. Thus, while it is true that Brave Software maintains an ad ecosystem, it is the first one of its kind that tries to perform advertising in a privacy-respecting manner.

        Needless to say, Google’s ad delivery is based on violating user privacy – this is an issue Brave Software offers a viable alternative to. Just because both systems are associated with ads, doesn’t mean they are the very same (the world is a bit more complex, unfortunately for you). I for one am happy that Brave aims to solve ethical issues of advertising, and that their system enables the company to stand on its own feet. They are not relying on violating user privacy for profit (Google) and they can happily exist without being a search engine leeches (Mozilla).

    2. Fauszt said on September 2, 2021 at 4:11 pm
      Reply

      Your reading comprehension seems to be bad.

    3. Iron Heart said on September 3, 2021 at 2:51 am
      Reply

      @JonSnow

      The comments under Brave articles, presumably written by people who have never used it and who are here to troll, are a particularly dumb phenomenon on gHacks.

      The website-related stuff Brave does, what it blocks or doesn’t block, has nothing to do with Brave’s own ads. These ads are locally generated(!) in a privacy-respecting manner and are entirely optional, and have nothing to do with any website interaction of the browser.

      If Brave relaxes the Standard setting of Brave Shields, which has nothing to do with Brave Rewards, then this is done strictly to improve web compatibility, because too many reports of broken websites reached the devs that there a result of overzealous blocking. If you want heavy blocking, there is still the “Aggressive” setting, but since you are not a Brave user, how does it matter to you?

      1. Emil Brausewetter said on September 3, 2021 at 3:03 pm
        Reply

        Quote:
        ” I for one am happy that Brave aims to solve ethical issues of advertising”
        If that’s the case, be happy for Brave.com’s sake.

        However, this does not give you the right to denounce anyone – who isn’t willing to parrot your fairy tale of “solving ethical issues of advertising” – in your condescending manner, as “a particularly dumb phenomenon on gHacks”.

        Brave.com solves nothing.
        On the contrary, Brave.com creates – with much fanfare – yet another advertising niche. Just another contribution to this ever-increasing cannibalization of the “World Wide Web” by the advertising industry.
        That’s your Happiness.

  4. denizhan said on September 2, 2021 at 12:31 pm
    Reply

    so basically, since chrome is going with the v3 or whatever that stuff is. brave is simply copying it and calling it their own tech? since they cannot revert it, they simply dress it up a little bit huh?

    1. Iron Heart said on September 3, 2021 at 2:53 am
      Reply

      @denizhan

      Manifest V3 is a change to extension APIs, this affects e.g. uBlock Origin. Brave Shields (the internal adblocker) is not an extension and is therefore not affected by this. What Brave has done here is improve the web compatibility of the “Standard” setting, because overzealous blocking might lead to broken websites.

  5. Anonymous said on September 2, 2021 at 6:54 pm
    Reply

    It would have been better if you checked Github and understood the issues rather than the blogpost.

    The point is that people disable their shields too much for features Brave team adds, in this case “sub requests”
    You can test it here https://dev-pages.bravesoftware.com/filtering/network-requests.html
    Right now the behavior is that Aggressive and Standard block 1p and 3p, so the new way is that Standard will ONLY block 3p, so you don’t need to disable the whole thing just because Shields broke something.

    So the change makes sense. Standard should stick to 3p and aggressive should be about 1p and 3p.

    That’s it, it is nothing critical, it is just so people don’t have to keep turning their shields off completely because some 1p sub request got blocked.

    What people don’t understand is Aggressive mode currently is about Cosmetic filtering, not about Network filtering, so the scripts and stuff blocked by both are the same, the only thing that changes is how cosmetics might apply, so this change will actually separate both modes to actually do 1p vs 3p like it should be.

    1. Yash said on September 3, 2021 at 7:23 am
      Reply

      Finally someone who talks sense. I was a bit confused as to what is 1p and 3p in Brave blocking as it clearly doesn’t mean scripts. Now I know it is about cosmetic filtering which is a bit weird as it is not same as network filtering in terms of privacy. Unfortunately Brave marketing man here didn’t understood the difference here and called everyone a troll.

      1. Anonymous said on September 3, 2021 at 11:52 am
        Reply

        @Yash
        Yeah currently (on stable) Standard and Aggressive mode in terms of network filters they block exactly the same, so they do the same, nothing will change if you switch one mode or the other, the only difference is you will not get 1p ads in Google or duckduckgo and outlook or something like that because cosmetic filters hide them, that’s it.

        So how having 2 modes blocking the same thing be good for anyone? if a website doesn’t work because you are blocking 1p stuff people will have to disable the Shields anyway, which will allow 3p trackers to be on and be worst anyway.

        The problem is how people think Google or Web compatibility has to do with this, it is actually people the reason they are doing that, and it is a good change, before 2018 Brave team was against blocking 1p stuff anyway, since you are already sharing your information with them when you join their domain, so it is good they are finally separating things. Just look at Brave unbreak list it has many 1p stuff whitelisted, the best example is the duckduckgo analytics.

        So this change is good because it should finally get rid of those 1p whitelisted network filters on Aggressive mode, Startpage and many others also got some scripts whitelisted for the 1p stuff so it wasn’t a filter list to unbreak websites but also allow the 1p stuff.
        So having 2 modes one doing more than the other is good, it is good to finally separate what each mode does.
        Of course, the problem is how Standard is the default mode, but again, blocking 1p stuff is mostly about annoyances since you aren’t really doing much in terms of privacy if you go to Google search or gmail and expect uBlock or Brave’s aggressive mode to change how Google is getting so much of your information already anyway.

      2. Yash said on September 3, 2021 at 3:44 pm
        Reply

        Exactly, now Brave team has drawn a clear line between Standard and Aggressive mode. That was always the main quirk, with shields as sort of master switch, a normie can disable it so website can work but it has more to it than just content blocking. Still think they need to separate content blocking from other protections, by doing things that way it would me more configurable.

  6. J. Tripper said on September 2, 2021 at 7:21 pm
    Reply

    Bow to the pressure of the big machine…. Fall in line or die, resistance is futile.

  7. Tree said on September 2, 2021 at 7:26 pm
    Reply

    I do not call them “resources”, because they are unwanted invasions of privacy.

  8. Anonymous said on September 3, 2021 at 12:05 am
    Reply

    @Martin
    I think you need to change ‘or’ to ‘and’ in the following

    “The component includes other protections, such as automatic connection upgrades from HTTP to HTTPS, or fingerprinting protections.”

  9. MeH said on September 5, 2021 at 10:07 pm
    Reply

    For years until recently, I’ve had two browsers (Chrome / Edge + Firefox), one of them has always been Firefox which I rarely used due to the fact that Firefox is a resource hog and still awful at handling memory (while my system doesn’t have a lot of RAM).

    I had planned to replace Edge (which works great for me) with Brave some time in future. Then I realized why not replace (crappy) Firefox (which I rarely use) with Brave!

    Now I’m quite happy (and productive) since I got rid of Firefox altogether and installed Brave. Now I can have two working browsers opened at the same time (on my 4GB-RAM system)!

    My only (small or maybe tiny!) problem with Brave is the fact that every time I clear browsing history, I should visit Shield section again to disable Shield protection, since they have bundled Shield settings with site settings in clear browsing data. Therefore whenever the history is cleared, Shields settings is removed too and it reactivates itself again.

    I don’t use Shield since I always use the undisputed king of content blockers i.e. uBlock Origin. And I’ve noticed that uBO blocks more crappy things (trackers, ads, etc.) than Shields.
    Man, you can block ANY element on a web page with uBO! It’s really powerful.

    Good job, Edge and Brave!
    Long live uBO ;)

    PS I will strongly resist (and denounce) any attempts to prevent uBO from working (like Google’s hateful Manifest V3) and discard any browser that doesn’t let me use uBO on it! ;)

  10. Asif said on September 6, 2021 at 2:34 pm
    Reply

    Brave gave my old potato Macbook Air a new life… I can watch YouTube videos without the ads; and with no extensions whatsoever. Netflix seems to be working great too. Before, my Macbook Air’s fan would just start spinning the moment I’d open youtube on safari, and not to mention hijacking my Apple TV and bombarding me with ads.

  11. Anonymous said on September 7, 2021 at 11:35 am
    Reply

    Never entrust an ad-friendly organization with your adblocking, be it Google in Chrome, Mozilla in Firefox, Brave Inc in Brave… Brave was already criticized for having an unnecessarily crippled blocker compared to ublock origin (and lied about this being done for our own good while it’s only for their profit). And now they are crippling it further and lying about their motives again, no surprise. This will not stop here, they have set their trend.

    And to the resident Brave shill who lies by omission by pretending that it is not Brave’s business interest to whitelist traditional ads: Brave makes money from traditional ads too through search deals (what will be the consequences of these new whitelistings on that by the way ?).

    And even if they didn’t, I wouldn’t count on an adware company to show more sympathy to the users than to even “competitors” in the ad business. Just look at how Mozilla is disgustingly advertising for Brave as “one of the best browsers”, “privacy focused” here:

    https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/browsers/compare/

    with their only criticism being that its model is “complicated” (?) and that it blocks ads too much (!). What happened with their “Brave for profit bad” and “Brave Chromium bad” messages ? They vanished here. At the same time, they are censoring any mention of Pale Moon by individuals wherever they can with the excuse that it is a “hostile fork”, and they don’t talk here at all about other ethical Firefox forks like Waterfox, LibreWolf, Fennec F-Droid, IceRaven… They have more sympathy for a Chromium fork that embarks like Firefox an algorithm that shows targeted ads based on what it spied directly on the user’s browsing. This shows how the most user hostile and ad-friendly browsers stand together against us while doing their best to excommunicate more ethical ones.

  12. Anonymous said on September 14, 2021 at 4:30 pm
    Reply

    And of course ghacks validates with the title the Brave’s lie that this was done to improve web compatibility. Complicity everywhere.

    There is another concern with Brave whitelisting nefarious content with fake pro-user motives, in that Brave has now for some time purchased the Easylist maintainer as an employee. How much time before the relevant brains have been hammered enough by years of joint propaganda of spyware browser developers to finally welcome without fighting Easylist itself starting to whitelist nefarious content unnecessarily “to improve web compatibility” and “because first-party nefarious content is not really that bad after all” ?

    And the problem is that it’s a continuum, it is already done sometimes by Easylist but this time for actual good reasons of unavoidable breakage when it is legitimately considered as too costly compared to the benefits in the war on ads, but Easylist being compromised, the line could slowly move towards excessive whitelisting without most noticing the problem. This industry is patient, time works for it because it controls the narrative. They know that what many would never accept today will be gladly welcomed by the same a few years later.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.