Soon, Google has even more leverage against adblockers

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 3, 2023
Google Chrome

Google plans to roll out Manifest V3, a new rules system for browser extensions, by mid 2024. The old system will no longer be supported by then, which means that all extensions for Chrome, the company's browser, need to support Manifest V3. Browser extensions that aren't updated by their developers will stop functioning.

Manifest V3 has been criticized heavily by privacy advocates and extension developers. Especially privacy-related tools, which includes adblockers, appear to be limited under Manifest V3.

While it is still possible to run adblockers and other privacy tools, these may no longer be as effective as before. Good news is that there are alternative browsers that users can switch to. Firefox, Mozilla's web browser, will also support Manifest V3, but also keep on supporting Manifest V2. In other words: Firefox users won't feel the impact of the change at all.

Chromium-based browsers like Brave, Vivaldi, Edge or Opera are in a different position. They may include a native content blocking option already, which is unaffected by the change. Extensions on the other hand may very well be affected, unless the developers hack Manifest V2 support into their browsers or alter Manifest V3 functionality.

The change impacts Chrome the most, but other Chromium-based browsers will also be affected.

Google's second weapon against adblocking

Firefox Content Blocker

If this would not be bad enough, Google is also in control of the Chrome Web Store. Most Chromium-based browsers support installing extensions from the Store. In fact, only a few have a Store of their own as an alternative.

A recent Ars Technica article highlights another lever that Google has to make adblockers less effective. One of the main changes of the Manifest V3 system is that extensions lose the option to use "remotely hosted code".

Most adblockers rely on filter lists to block content on the Web. These lists are sometimes updated several times a day to react to changes on existing platforms or add new filtering rules.

Once Manifest V3 lands, all extension updates will have to go through the Chrome Web Store. If an extension wants to updates its filter list, which is just a list of strings, it needs to do so by pushing an update to the Chrome Web Store.

Reviews on the Chrome Web Store may take anywhere from a few hours to days or weeks even. Even worse, this delay is under the current system. Imagine a review process were hundreds of thousands of Chrome extensions push all of their updates through the Chrome Web Store. Unless Google adds more resources to the process, things will likely slow down further.

This is a problem, especially since major sites like YouTube may make multiple changes throughout a day to limit content blocking.

Through this change, Google has put itself in an excellent position to make adblockers less effective on YouTube. To be precise, adblockers for Chromium-based browsers.

Firefox is not affected by this and so aren't any Firefox-based browsers.

Closing Words

Chrome is the world's most popular browser and it has a lot going for it. It is fast, has excellent web compatibility and doesn't get into the way of users for the most part.

Downside is that Chrome and the entire Chromium project are under Google's control. Google is an advertising company that will go through great lengths to protect its core business.

If you use Chrome and adblockers, you may want to consider migrating to another browser. Either a Chromium-based browser with integrated content blocker, such as Brave or Vivaldi, or Firefox.

Mozilla made some bad decisions in the past, but it also has corrected some of them. In a few days, Firefox users on Android may install any compatible extension in the browser. It already supported content blockers, but unlocking the entire extensions system is a massive win for users.

Chrome users who don't want to or can't make the switch at this point could install another browser on their systems and start using it next to Chrome.

Soon, Google has even more leverage against adblockers
Article Name
Soon, Google has even more leverage against adblockers
The article discusses a second lever that Google has against content blockers once the new extensions Manifest V3 lands in mid-2024.
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  1. toni said on December 10, 2023 at 10:10 am

    I have nothing against adds…but, let’s be fair…one or two at the beginning of the video is quite enough. Yesterday I tried to view some videos (youtube) without adblocker in firefox. My god, every two minutes there was an add. In 25 minutes of the total playing time…I want to throw up when there was for the x time an add for cookies :)
    I know…ads “must” exist in this world…but, sometimes, the more is not better.

  2. Naimless said on December 4, 2023 at 9:03 pm

    It’s OK as long as Firefox don’t pull off a Google up on us. Been using Firefox on Linux for years and have missed nothing from other browsers. But if Firefox starts adapting Manifest V3 I’ll be out.

  3. Kyra said on December 4, 2023 at 1:09 am

    Effective today, have switched to Firefox. Wonder whether Google’s actions will spread to other browsers. I’m not going to tolerate ads, and if forced, will be on the internet only when essential.

  4. ECJ said on December 4, 2023 at 1:01 am

    After Microsoft ruined Edge with all the bloat, and all the Bing/MSN and privacy invading crap they kept adding with every update, I was looking for alternatives a while back. It really boiled down to just two browsers:

    1) Firefox (with uBlock Origin).

    2) Brave (with built-in Brave Shields set to aggressive, which uses the same filter lists as uBlock Origin).

    I gave them both a good go for about a month each and liked both of them. However, ultimately Brave won out because it could be used as a direct replacement for Chrome/Edge, using familiar Chrome Group Policies, and most importantly had the website compatibility of Chrome (such as video conferencing directly in the browser). Brave Shields also worked really well on it’s own, without even needing uBlock Origin. That said, uBlock Origin does have certain benefits, such as it’s UI makes it easier to add your own custom rules, and uBlock Origin can be controlled via Group Policy. Other than that, Brave Shields worked flawlessly.

    Vivaldi is also possibly an option, but at the time I found it too geeky (particularly in the settings) and their built-in content blocker wasn’t on the same level as the one in Brave. It may very well suit some though.

    So, as per the article, with the upcoming removal of Manifest V2 the choice really boils down to three browsers:

    Snog: Vivaldi
    Marry: Brave, Firefox
    Avoid: Chrome, Edge

    1. TelV said on December 6, 2023 at 12:20 pm


      You might be interested in Floorp which is based on FF ESR:

      Also, you can use more than one browser on your system so always worth trying an alternative.

  5. kalmly said on December 3, 2023 at 11:32 pm

    All this constant ado over ads. I never minded ads when they were fewer, when they didn’t jump around, when they didn’t squeeze a page’s content to little square bits stuffed between and betwixt the blaring promotions for some product. Now ads take up too much CPU, too much space. When that started happening, I started looking for ways to rid myself of them. So now we have a war that would never have been necessary if, back in the beginning, Google (and others) had given only a scintilla of consideration and respect to its users.

    I’d love to say how pleased I am that comments are working again. However, my few posts never go through.

    1. Tom Hawack said on December 4, 2023 at 1:54 pm

      @kalmly, I think that most of those who are fed up with advertisement are in fact fed up with excessive and increasingly excessive advertisement. Those of us who deny advertisement as a principle are for most I believe in the rows of an “anti-society” rhetoric, you know that sort of “anti-capitalism” demagogy, which is their right of course but not representative of plain dudes who are just fed up with what they experience as “too much”. IMO the very concept of advertising, of promoting a product is not as such critiquable, it’s in the very human nature, be it to sell, exchange, share one’s pride for his work, be it artistic, intellectual : it’s just plain and natural communication :)

      The problem is that advertisement nowadays doesn’t respect consumers. Moreover, when it comes to the Web, advertisement is tied to tracking and malvertisement : the business is bypassing natural limits of what a human being can endure unless to behave as an overfed goose, and is as such counter-productive policy. It’s been said and repeated : less, better, tracking-free, malvertisement-free is the only way to go to re-conciliate consumers with advertisement. Until then, it’ll be a systematical NO-AD perspective and corollary behavior.

  6. 11r20 said on December 3, 2023 at 10:38 pm


  7. MasterCheeks said on December 3, 2023 at 7:43 pm

    Firefox is switching to Manifest V3 as well, sure they might take a little longer to do it but their browser may not be the solution everyone is hoping it is.

  8. Mystique said on December 3, 2023 at 7:31 pm

    Nothing new here really. It was all there for people to see from day one of Manifest v3 to start with. People are only now figuring this out?

    I wouldn’t even bother with Chromium based browsers to be honest but that is just me. Whatever we can do to balance out the market and strip control away from Google will be great and if that means more Firefox users then great! I will even go one step ahead and suggest looking at forks of Firefox too. Become socially active in extension development and bolster up Firefox. Bring back the community development Firefox once had.

    At this point I would even suggest checking out Pale Moon and Basilisk browser too which often get forgotten. There are plenty of options outside of Chromium to enjoy.
    I imagine we are going to see a large number of Chromium forks appear and attempt to steer you into their direction I say resist their call and at least give other browsers a good trial run first and consider that by using Chromium based browser you are still propping up the enemy.

  9. Peaches said on December 3, 2023 at 7:13 pm

    I did a screen video of the same Macworld article on both Firefox and Safari with uBlock Origin installed on FF and AdBlock Pro on Safari. There’s a huge difference in invasive ads where they were non-existent with FF and inundated in Safari. I also use Chrome but FF is becoming my Go-To other than 1 banking site that will not allow a Login and have to us SAF or CHROME.

  10. Kalmly said on December 3, 2023 at 7:11 pm

    All this constant ado over ads. I never minded ads when they were fewer, when they didn’t jump around, when they didn’t squeeze a page’s content to little square bits stuffed between and betwixt the blaring promotions for some product. Now ads take up too much CPU, too much space. When that started happening, I started looking for ways to rid myself of them. So now we have a war. A war that would never have been necessary if, back in the beginning, Google (and others) had given only a scintilla of consideration and respect to its users.

    BTW. So nice to have the comments back.

  11. Jon said on December 3, 2023 at 5:48 pm

    I switched to Firefox back when manifest v3 was announced. I know people don’t like change but once you switch you get used to it really fast. People really should not accept Google’s control of the Internet.

  12. FoxCuck said on December 3, 2023 at 5:11 pm

    I already replaced Chrome with Firefox & Ublock Origin & I still don’t care about cookies on all my family & friends computers and will do the same with their phones. I have been using Kiwi forever on my phone but all good things must come to an end so Firefox, here I come on all fours. I have been talking shit about firefox for AGES, but when it comes to adblocking I’m a shameless sellout WHORE. Plus, the Firefox I was talking shit about is not the same anymore. It is what it is, Google are shooting themselves in the face with this one. People WILL leave, yes just to not see ads. People are that petty. In a few years Google will have to make YouTube a paid service, let’s see how that works out…

    1. Mystique said on December 4, 2023 at 2:21 pm

      If you go with Firefox for you phone you’d be best advised to look at forks such as Mull, IceRaven, Fennec. I’m not entirely sure what is going on with Waterfox for android but that might be an option too.
      Kiwi also enforces their own whitelist for adblocking so I don’t really trust it as much as it was a nice that it supported extensions. I do also feel that it’s developer has slowed down quite a lot too.

  13. Patrick Dark said on December 3, 2023 at 2:04 pm

    Seems like the problem could be solved by just creating an adblocker whose sole purpose is to block YouTube ads.

    And seems like blocking remotely-hosted code would be a good thing for security, especially since Google’s review process seems to be essentially AI analysis of whatever a developer decides to upload to Google’s servers.

  14. Chris said on December 3, 2023 at 12:05 pm

    Block at the DNS level if you’re serious. Smart TVs, Androids and iPhones phone home an absurd amount of times compared to a petty browser.

    1. ShintoPlasm said on December 4, 2023 at 3:55 pm

      Not as effective as you think, especially with DoH/DoT/DoQ and Encrypted Hello being used to circumvent your configured DNS resolver.

      1. Nerdelbaum Frink said on December 4, 2023 at 5:39 pm

        This is actually quite overstated and not as big of an issue that people make it out to be, specifically for ad related things. I’ve been running pi-holes for a long time, and I have wireguard that I auto-toggle when offsite on my phone. All of these circumvention techniques haven’t resulted in any ads where they’re not supposed to be. At most you might get some analytics sent through to something, but if your goal is blocking ads, I’ve yet to see the downside to DNS level blocking.

        And then for people who really want to control DNS as much as possible, I’d suggest using a public DoH blocklist, blocking DoT/DoQ ports, etc.

    2. Mystique said on December 4, 2023 at 2:22 pm

      Whilst that may be true I do not think that will be capable of discerning ads and blocking them on youtube.

  15. Benjamin said on December 3, 2023 at 11:28 am

    ..,in many way inacceptable that millions of people can and will be forced to eat what private corporations lay out… free markets but not freedom for societies/individuals… Dystopia is what it will be.

    1. Nerdelbaum Frink said on December 4, 2023 at 5:42 pm

      Over reacting much? You’re not forced to use Chrome, and government enforced control over this sort of thing is far, far too authoritarian, and simply gross at a basic ethical level.

    2. Tom Hawack said on December 3, 2023 at 12:48 pm

      Forced? Free markets indeed, and freedom is (still) factual for individuals : there are alternatives to Google services and products, be it it’s browser (this article). There are alternatives to the wild GAFAM. The problem is not what the markets offer, it’s the users’ lack of reactivity. If I were a financial cow-boy I’d say “If users are dumb then it’s their problem, not ours, not mine, and let’s play and get our wallets thick with them”. But I’m not, yet when you have alternatives the issues related to omnipotent companies are essentially of your very own responsibility.

      No Google here, need to say. Anything but Google. Firefox when it comes to the browser, Should Mozilla vanish as some predict, there are and always will be alternatives… within free markets. The difference between totalitarian societies and free ones is not probity but this very crucial matter : a user’s freedom, this freedom which bothers oligarchies but which they cannot bypass with other means than tortuous communication strategies ending up because meant to be brainwashing essentially based on human’s slavery to fashion, itself built on the snowball effect : make those who don’t use a product believe that they are lonesome. And it works so well that once the snowball gets big the initial lie becomes truth. This is a major flaw in all democracies but the culprit is us, not the predators, it’s the consumer’s blindness, not a company’s eagerness to enslave you.

      1. Benjamin said on December 4, 2023 at 11:27 am

        Well i do not think that. Otherwise i would have written that. I think that corporations must follow a legal framework (not free market options) and environment which also benefits the casual user AND society.
        Corporations and their tax exempt owners very much rely on so governments/states/politics to protect that which they think is theirs and so i expect the very same for individuals.

  16. Anonymous said on December 3, 2023 at 10:10 am

    Not a problem on Brave and Firefox. Yes it’s a problem but with an easy fix.

    1. Andy Prough said on December 4, 2023 at 9:00 pm

      @penny “you think if google cant make those two companies do whatever they want? lol. firefox is basically google owned and basically works for google if you consider that they build features into chromium and i mean they the most shady company anyways.”

      Yup. The only modern browser that is able to render nearly all websites and is free from the influences of Google code or Google money or both is Pale Moon. And Pale Moon has robust ad blocking extensions using its stronger XUL extension system.

    2. penny said on December 3, 2023 at 10:52 pm

      you think if google cant make those two companies do whatever they want? lol. firefox is basically google owned and basically works for google if you consider that they build features into chromium and i mean they the most shady company anyways.

  17. InsaRa said on December 3, 2023 at 9:50 am

    dear google, never again. but who ever wanted you!

  18. 45 RPM said on December 3, 2023 at 9:16 am

    Firefox. Duck Duck Go. There, problem solved.

  19. Scroogled said on December 3, 2023 at 9:09 am

    Will the EU be any help in combating this nonsense from Google? It appears that Google is still not learning, and it is time for the EU to slap them with another massive fine.

    Firefox is more important now than it has ever been. Its time everyone switched. Chromium, WebView, and Electron all deserve to burn in hell!

    1. Anonymous said on December 3, 2023 at 9:45 pm

      …even better, people could take some responsibility for themselves, put down instagram for an hour or two and educate themselves on google’s “be evil” behaviors. Once enlightened, said person could make the conscious decision to eliminate all google products from their life and if it so happens they are feeling especially plucky, trashcan social media as well. See? No need to give big brother dominion over all, just takes a pinch of fortitude and a bit of the ole grey matter. party on dudes!

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