Google is facing a huge backlash for removing ads from its ad-blocking app, AdBlock Plus.
The company has now apologised for the error and promised to add more robust ads-removal options in the future.
The ad removal error was first spotted by the Guardian’s AdBlock News and highlighted the difficulty of using the free AdBlock app in the face of so many ad blockers, which are often installed in the background.
AdBlock was originally developed by Microsoft and originally made available for Android devices.
It works by blocking ads that are not paid for by the publishers it is meant to block.
But in 2017, Google changed its rules and disabled AdBlock’s free-to-use, ad-removing features.
In a blog post, Google said that it had removed ads from the app “because it was not ready to support it in the next version”, and added that AdBlock users who wanted to try AdBlock again would have to download an older version of the app.
It said that “this was not the right way to do this”.
The company said it had “made changes to improve ad removal and other features for users who are interested in using AdBlock”.
AdBlock added that “it is important to note that Adblock Plus is not required to use AdBlock, and we will continue to support AdBlock for as long as the free version of AdBlock remains available.”
It added that it was working on a solution that will allow users to remove AdBlock ads from their Google searches.
This will require users to install the AdBlock AdRemover extension, which will automatically remove AdBlocks adverts, along with any other ad-targeting software.
However, it will not remove all ad-filtering software on their device, and will require a manual reboot.
In its statement, Google added that the new version of its ad blocker “does not remove any AdBlock adverts on Google searches”.
The statement was accompanied by a screenshot of Adblock’s free trial offering.
“We’re committed to helping AdBlock get back to the top of the ad-blocker heap, so we’re working to make AdBlock even better in the near future,” Google said.
Adblock users who want to try the ad removal will need to download a newer version of Google’s Adblock app.
Users can continue to download AdBlock after the fix is implemented, but it is unclear how long the software will take to download.
Google has since released an update for AdBlock that includes some of the fixes and will be rolled out in the coming weeks.
AdGuard, a US-based ad-protection company, said it was “surprised” to see the company take such a dramatic step.
“It is disappointing that AdGuard has chosen to remove ads from AdBlock without any notification to the Advertisers.
This is very disappointing.
This was done with the intention to remove the ads in the context of our partnership with AdBlock.
Adguard believes that ad removal is the way to go to prevent fraudulent activity and malicious behaviour, not to remove adverts,” it said.
The decision to remove all ads, as well as to remove any ad-serving software, raises concerns over how long it will take for AdGuard to deliver AdBlock to millions of users.
“AdBlock Plus should have been available for Adblock for many months before this issue surfaced,” wrote Chris Tannen, AdGuard’s vice president of technology.
“A quick fix for the AdGuard app to be installed immediately would not be a viable solution to this issue.
The removal of ads from a paid app is not a solution.”
Tannens added that users who were unable to use the free trial would need to upgrade to AdBlock Pro.
“If AdBlock is to continue to grow, we need AdBlock on millions of devices.
We will be contacting AdBlock customers with instructions to install AdBlock in the upcoming days.
This update will provide AdBlock with more than 30 million users on AdBlock plus hundreds of thousands of ads.
This should make Adblock a huge hit for users,” Tanneng said.
Google is currently offering AdBlock free for two years, and AdBlock pro for a year.
Users who want the free service can find it on the Google Play store.
Users with Adblock Pro will need the free extension to install.