Scumbags are Stealing From You on the Internet
As an individual who has been in the IT industry for more than 15 years, it is important to keep up with current trends. And the “new” internet, which emerged two to three years ago, is full of companies who are stealing from you.
You may think, “I’ve got high-speed internet and it works fine. Whatchoo talkin’ bout, Willis?” This is the same old internet, right? It looks the same. It smells the same.
But it isn’t. Five or so years ago, many sites were using advertising “pop-ups” that opened a new browser window and flashed an advertisement in your face. It forced you to close the window in order to proceed. While these have not disappeared, they have become less prevalent, as software developers who write code for the browsers we use (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome) listened to your feedback and developed tools to suppress these popups.
As with anything, where there is a will, there is a way. Technology has changed the way browsers can render content. Pages no longer need pop-ups to force their advertisements upon you when you navigate to a web site. They can write it directly into the page using layers of advertisements that obscure your vision of the page you are viewing. Not only that, they are also forcing streaming video of their ads to automatically begin playing when you load a page. Sometimes they even make it impossible to close. Your only option is to mute it and maybe even sit there and watch it before you can proceed.
So what is the big deal?
If you read the fine print in the service agreement that your internet service provider gave you when you signed up, you will most likely notice that you have a monthly bandwidth limit. Bandwidth is defined as the number of kilobytes of data that you are allowed to download every month. This limit is usually very high and only affects a small minority of customers. However, let’s pretend that you commonly use your computer for work during the day, and you also have family members in your home who use it for a variety of purposes. Perhaps you like to stream movies on Netflix on occasion, which is definitely bandwidth intensive. All of a sudden, that bandwidth limit can become important, and even quite costly if you were to exceed your monthly limit.
And that doesn’t even account for the things happening behind the scenes that you don’t necessarily see. As a test case, I navigated to one of my favorite sites on the internet, ProFootballTalk.com. It is an affiliate of NBC Sports. Examining the status bar at the bottom of the browser in this case revealed downloads from these other sites:
Data is being accessed from all of those sites just by attempting to load one web page. And it has become the rule, not the exception. Advertisers are stealing your bandwidth, and you don’t get an infinite amount of it from your Internet Service Provider. What’s worse is all of these advertising sites put cookies on your computer and bog it down with more junk. It would be the equivalent of someone drawing an entire bath full of water just to brush their teeth. It is a wasteful use of resources and it is being abused.
Bandwidth efficiency also has much more of an impact on society than on just an individual level. With mobile devices becoming as popular and as prevalent in society as personal computers, the demand for bandwidth has increased to an extent that telecommunications companies are having difficulty meeting it. Basic economics says that when a product or service is short in supply, but high in demand, the price will increase. This means your cell phone and cable/DSL bill will continue to rise in the future. Many market analysts predict that the costs will increase dramatically over the next few years alone.
So don’t feel guilty when you close a bullshit ad that tries to load when you just want to look at the weather forecast. You are saving the rest of us money in the long run.