MSN.com and some other websites look like the following screenshot when you visit using the Google Chrome browser with AdBlock or Adblock Plus (ABP) running. (Adblock Plus is an unrelated product developed by a different company.)
Why is it happening?
MSN.com and some other popular websites appear to be escalating the war against ad blockers. First, they began using a very aggressive ad technology to bypass Chrome users' ad blockers. Now the sites are apparently intentionally breaking their own pages to force visitors to disable their ad blockers altogether.
As of this writing, we know this is happening on MSN.com, Ottawacitizen.com, and Sporcle.com. If the tactic spreads (as is likely), the same workarounds we offer below will help on other sites, too.
What browsers are affected?
Chrome is the most affected, as indicated in the screenshot above. Microsoft Edge displays MSN.com pages correctly, but articles on interior pages may not open. Mozilla Firefox appears to be unaffected.
What can I do about it?
There are a few things you can do to make MSN.com pages display properly.
On November 14, we released an update to AdBlock for Chrome (3.20.0) that bypasses the aggressive ad technology on many websites, including MSN.com.
The developer of the ad technology has already found a way around our solution on some sites, however. Our solution is still working on MSN.com, but it may be broken again at any time.
We are actively working to counteract their methods. The best thing you can do is to keep your AdBlock up-to-date. If your Chrome extensions are set to update automatically (which is the default setting in Chrome), you don't need to do anything to get new releases. AdBlock will update itself automatically when your browser is open.
Use AdBlock Premium
AdBlock Premium, AdBlock's new paid product, blocks the aggressive ad technology and blocks the aggressive ads, too. AdBlock Premium is still in beta trials. You can install it from our website at https://getadblockpremium.com.
Pausing AdBlock is a quick and easy way to disable AdBlock temporarily. Remember to unpause when you leave MSN.com!
- Click the AdBlock button in the Chrome toolbar and select Pause on this site.
- Reload the page.
To resume ad blocking, click the AdBlock button again and select Resume blocking ads.
ABP can be disabled (see below) but not paused.
Whitelisting tells your ad blocker not to block ads on a particular page or website while continuing to block them everywhere else.
- Click the AdBlock button in the Chrome toolbar and select Don't run on pages on this site.
- Click Exclude.
- Reload the page.
- Click the ABP button in the Chrome toolbar and select Enabled on this site to disable ABP on MSN.com.
- Reload the page.
Open Chrome's developer tools
Opening Chrome's developer tools temporarily stops MSN.com's ad technology from running. The technology is smart. It can detect when the developer tools are open and not run. In effect, it's "hiding" from visitors who know how to use developer access to the page to try to get around it.
You don't have to be a web developer to use this workaround. You don't need to do anything with the developer tools, just open and close them. Site pages will load properly, without ads, for a little while. When the ads return or the page breaks again, just open and close the developer tools.
To open Chrome's developer tools, press Ctrl+Shift+I or right-click the page and select Inspect. To close them, click the X in the upper right corner of the developer tools pane.
As stated above, Firefox doesn't appear to be affected by the ad technology MSN.com is using. You don't have to switch browsers entirely. You can visit MSN.com in Firefox while keeping Chrome as your default browser. You can get Firefox at https://www.mozilla.org/firefox/new/.