Google begins blocking annoying ads on its browser

The Google logo at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif can be seen in this file photo. (AP)
Updated 16 February 2018
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Google begins blocking annoying ads on its browser

WASHINGTON: Google has begun a new effort to block annoying ads on its Chrome browser, as part of an initiative aimed at improving the online advertising ecosystem that provides the bulk of its revenues.
The new ad filtering system rolled out this week aims to eliminate the most irritating marketing messages such as pop-ups, auto-play video ads and “sticky” boxes which cannot be removed.
The system was implemented by Google in partnership with the Coalition for Better Ads, an association which includes the Internet giant and a number of media and advertising partners.
“While most advertising on the web is respectful of user experience, over the years we’ve increasingly heard from our users that some advertising can be particularly intrusive,” Google engineering manager Chris Bentzel said in a blog post ahead of the rollout Thursday.
“Chrome will tackle this issue by removing ads from sites that do not follow the Better Ads Standards.”
While Google’s effort is expected to block only a small percentage of ads, it aims to counter a growing movement to install third-party ad blockers which filter all such advertisements and could be a threat to firms relying on online revenues.
According to a study last year by the research firm PageFair, about 11 percent of the global Internet population uses ad-blocking software, affecting 380 million mobile devices and 236 million desktop PCs.
Google vice president Rahul Roy-Chowdhury said the move aims to improve the online ad system even if it means blocking some ads from Google itself.
“To us, your experience on the web is a higher priority than the money that these annoying ads may generate — even for us,” Roy-Chowdhury said in a blog post.
“The web is an ecosystem composed of consumers, content producers, hosting providers, advertisers, web designers, and many others. It’s important that we work to maintain a balance — and if left unchecked, disruptive ads have the potential to derail the entire system.”
Google and its partners in the ad coalition thus appear to be aiming to head off a consumer revolt which could choke off revenues to Internet, media and advertising companies.
The Coalition for Better Ads said in a statement Thursday it “is pleased by the large number of companies in the online ad industry that have embraced the Better Ads Standards and taken action on their own and with their business partners to discontinue the ad formats consumers find most annoying and disruptive.”


Thaw of Antarctic ice lifts up land, might slow sea level rise

Updated 22 June 2018
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Thaw of Antarctic ice lifts up land, might slow sea level rise

  • The fast rise of the bedrock beneath will lift ever more of the ice onto land, reducing the risks of a breakup of the sheet caused by warming ocean water seeping beneath the ice
  • The process was too slow to save the ice sheet from a possible collapse triggered by global warming

OSLO: Antarctica’s bedrock is rising surprisingly fast as a vast mass of ice melts into the oceans, a trend that might slow an ascent in sea levels caused by global warming, scientists said on Thursday.
The Earth’s crust in West Antarctica is rising by up to 4.1 centimeters (1.61 inches) a year, an international team wrote in the journal Science, in a continental-scale version of a foam mattress reforming after someone sitting on it gets up.
The rate, among the fastest ever recorded, is likely to accelerate and could total 8 meters (26.25 feet) this century, they said, helping to stabilize the ice and brake a rise in sea levels that threatens coasts from Bangladesh to Florida.
“It’s good news for Antarctica,” lead author Valentina Barletta of the Technical University of Denmark and Ohio State University told Reuters of the findings, based on GPS sensors placed on bedrock around the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica.
Much of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which has enough ice to raise world sea levels by more than three meters (10 feet) if it ever all melted, rests on the seabed, pinned down by the weight of ice above.
The fast rise of the bedrock beneath will lift ever more of the ice onto land, reducing the risks of a breakup of the sheet caused by warming ocean water seeping beneath the ice.
The uplift “increases the potential stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet against catastrophic collapse,” the scientists wrote.
Last week, another study said that three trillion tons of ice had thawed off from Antarctica since 1992, raising sea levels by almost a centimeter — a worsening trend.
It often takes thousands of years for the Earth’s crust to reshape after a loss of ice. Parts of Scandinavia or Alaska, for instance, are still rising since the end of the last Ice Age removed a blanket of ice more than a kilometer thick.
A further report this month found that the West Antarctic ice sheet expanded about 10,000 years ago, interrupting a long-term retreat after the last Ice Age, because of a rise of the land beneath.
But it said the process was too slow to save the ice sheet from a possible collapse triggered by global warming.
One of the lead authors of that study, Torsten Albrecht at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told Reuters on Thursday: “The expected eight-meter (26.4-foot) uplift in 100 years in the Amundsen Sea region ... seems rather small in order to prohibit future collapse.”