Commit 48958a46 authored by Aral Balkan's avatar Aral Balkan

Update content for spotlight

parent 487f45eb
# **Name of site** (alternet.org)
# **Alternet** (alternet.org)
> “Brief description of the site” – [Source](link)
![Screenshot of Alternet’s web site](alternet.jpg)
> “AlterNet is a progressive activist news service and a project of the non-profit Independent Media Institute.” – [Source](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AlterNet)
## Trackers to the left of me, surveillance to the right…
‘Progressive activist news site’ Alternet comes in 11th with 74 trackers on the [Alexa Top 500 News sites list](/sites/alexa-top-500-news), ordered by number of trackers.
The conservative news site [The Drudge Report](/sites/drudgereport.com) scores only slightly better in 12th position with 71 trackers.
One’s the darling of the left, the other a beloved cornerstone of the right. And yet they’re both in the same business: behavioural advertising. The bait they use to entice you is different but the goal is the same: [to farm you](https://ar.al/notes/the-nature-of-the-self-in-the-digital-age/).
## Ethical design violations
......
# **Name of site** (drudgereport.com)
# **Drudge Report** (drudgereport.com)
> “Brief description of the site” – [Source](link)
![Screenshot of Drudge Report’s web site](drudgereport.jpg)
> “The Drudge Report is a politically conservative[4][5][dead link][6][7][8] American news aggregation website.” – [Source](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drudge_Report)
## Ethical design violations
......
# **Forbes** (forbes.com)
# **Cloud of Shame** Forbes (forbes.com)
![Forbes doorslam](doorslam.jpg)
> “Forbes is an American business magazine.” – [Source](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forbes)
## A Waste of Human Life
When you, as a human being, visit Forbes.com, you get a doorslam. This is a screen that blocks your progress and displays an advertisement, a quote from some sage person, and a three-second count down before you have to press a button to continue to the site itself.
<blockquote style='font-size: 1.5em; text-align:left;'>“Every year, one human life worth of time – over 87 years – is lost to one ‘annoying’ doorslam on one site.”</blockquote>
When you, as a human being, visit Forbes.com, you get [a doorslam](http://www.creativebloq.com/mobile/web-needs-fewer-doorslams-and-more-personality-5135640). In ad-industry parlance, this is an ‘interstitial’ – a modal screen that blocks your progress and displays an advertisement. In this case, Forbes attempts to disguise the intent by including a random quote from some sage person. And, to rub salt on the wound, the page has a three-second count down before it allows you to press a button to continue to the site itself.
Let’s be conservative here and say that the whole thing takes about five seconds for you to get through if you have lightning fast reflexes. That’s not that bad, is it? And, once you’ve been subjected to it, you are not subjected to it again for that session.
Let’s be conservative here and say that the whole malarkey takes about five seconds for you to get through if you have lightning fast reflexes. That’s not that bad, is it? And, once you’ve been subjected to it, you are not subjected to it again for that session. (But you will be if you return the next day, as Forbes sets a ‘dailyWelcomeCookie’ that expires at the end of the day.)
So what’s the big deal? 5 seconds isn’t that bad, is it? Why is Forbes this month’s Cloud of Shame?
Here’s why: by Forbe’s own admission, Forbes gets 46 million unique visitors to their site every month.
Let’s run the numbers:
![Forbes’s visitor statistics](stats.jpg)
46,000,000 people × 5 seconds = 230,000,000 seconds
230,000,000 seconds ÷ 60 seconds = 3,833,333 minutes
3,833,333 minutes ÷ 60 minutes = 63,888 hours
63,888 ÷ 24 hours = 2,662 days
2,662 ÷ 365 = 7.3 years
Let’s, again, be hugely conservative here and say that each one of those visitors only visits the site once and thus gets exposed to the 5-second delay just once:
So very conservatively, every month, humankind cumulatively loses over 7 years of life because Forbes wants to show you a doorslam with an ad in it.
<div style='padding: 24px; padding-bottom: 12px; border-radius: 12px; background-color: #f3f3f3; margin-top: 24px; margin-bottom: 24px;'>
<p style='border-bottom: 1px solid lightgrey;'>46,000,000 people × 5 seconds = 230,000,000 seconds</p>
<p style='border-bottom: 1px solid lightgrey;'>230,000,000 seconds ÷ 60 seconds = 3,833,333 minutes</p>
<p style='border-bottom: 1px solid lightgrey;'>3,833,333 minutes ÷ 60 minutes = 63,888 hours</p>
<p style='border-bottom: 1px solid lightgrey;'>63,888 hours ÷ 24 hours = 2,662 days</p>
<p>2,662 days ÷ 365 days = <span style='font-weight: bold; border-bottom: 3px double #ababab;'>7.3 years</span></p>
</div>
In other words, every year, one human life worth of time – over 87 years – is lost to that one ‘annoying’ doorslam on that one site.
So very conservatively, every month, humankind cumulatively loses over 7 years of life because Forbes decided to show you a doorslam with an ad in it.
This is just one of the externalities of the behavioural advertising industry that we must start calculating: lifetimes lost.
In other words, **every year, one human life worth of time – over 87 years – is lost to one ‘annoying’ doorslam on one site.**
I started this article with “when you, as a human being” for a very specific reason. Because if you want to regain your 5 seconds, all you have to do is to pretend that you’re a robot. That’s right, if you want to skip the doorslam, the easiest thing you can do is to set your browser’s user agent to the user agent used by the Googlebot:
This is just one of the externalities of the behavioural advertising industry that we must start calculating: *lifetimes lost per year*.
```
Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)
```
![What Google sees](what-google-sees.jpg)
> Screenshot: the Googlebot gets shown directly to the content. The doorslam is purely for human beings.
I started this article with “when you, as a human being” for a very specific reason. Because if you want to regain your 5 seconds, all you have to do is to pretend that you’re a robot. To skip the doorslam, the easiest thing you can do is to set your browser’s user agent to the user agent used by the Googlebot:
<p><code>Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)</code></p>
Because Forbes is only interested in stealing time from living, breathing human beings. If you’re Google, you get shown directly to the content.
![Forbes’s blocker blocker which resulted in people getting infected with malware](blocker-blocker.jpg)
And things were even worse before: Forbes used to detect tracker blockers like Better and block you from proceeding unless you turned them off. And what happened when people complied and stopped protecting themselves on the web? [They got served malware](http://www.extremetech.com/internet/220696-forbes-forces-readers-to-turn-off-ad-blockers-promptly-serves-malware) is what. While Forbes appears to have stopped this practice, [Wired](/sites/wired.com) hasn’t (note: Better blocks their blocker blocker). And where do these publishers get the idea? From no other than the trade association for the behavioural advertising industry. Forcing people to turn off their tracker blockers and stop protecting themselves on the web is part of the [standard policy called DEAL](/sites/iab.com) that the [Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)](/sites/iab.com) recommends publishers implement.
Shame on you, Forbes, for failing to respect human rights, human effort, and human experience. You fail [the ethical design test](https://ind.ie/ethical-design) on all counts and that makes you our Cloud of Shame for this month.
## Ethical design violations
......
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