Safari Browser: Improving the Web with 1Blocker

best safari content blocker

Beyond the ruckus around content blockers to iOS, you will find plenty of legitimate reasons to employ them. Let’s face it, these days the internet is cesspool of malware masquerading as legitimate technology. Take one look at the doublespeak around intelligent tracking protection in Safari and you will get a sense of what is at stake. I won't delve into those arguments here. If you read this site regularly, you have a pretty good idea of where I stand.

No, this is not about tracking, but one of the internet’s other most beguiling annoyances. Since the advent of Webkit blocking, projects like Better by ind.ie have tried to work admirably at balancing the blocking of invasive web trackers, and other nefarious practices, with understanding the struggles of independent publishers.1 Yet, as the results are still opinionated the blocker decides what will be let through, and that is that. There is only one content blocker I know of that gives me the kind of control necessary to be considerate, while blocking out elements I'd rather not see. I’m talking about the dumpster fire of opinion found in most comments sections.

What I didn’t expect when I started using 1Blocker, was an interpretation of internet annoyances that dovetailed with my own. Out of the box 1Blocker blocks comments on websites. It’s not perfect, the mechanics of webkit blocking mean if you block comments, it blocks them everywhere. You’re guaranteed to find some of the most base, vulgar, and offensive baiting anywhere on the internet in comments sections. One way or another I would find myself reading comments, then trying to mitigate the ugly feelings I have about the world thereafter. Since installing 1Blocker , the internet hasn’t been nearly as irksome.

If you don’t already know, Webkit content blockers work differently to classic ad-blockers. Using something like uBlock Origin might give you the same results, but it won’t work on iOS, and it can’t offer the performance of a Webkit content blocker. In their own words,

While most other extensions block content by filtering elements of already downloaded page, 1Blocker uses native blocking technology to tell Safari in advance what should be blocked. This vastly improves efficiency and saves battery life.

Elements and Rules

There are places, albeit very few, where comments are still useful and engaging. Chances are, if you happen to frequent such a site, you may be amenable to adding it to the whitelist. Or if you would prefer to work the other way around, you can use 1Blocker’s hide element tool — which works on macOS and iOS — to block elements on a case by case basis. I have chosen the nuclear option, and not just because it defaults to no comments.

I’m using the example of comments, but internet annoyances don’t end there. 1Blocker recently started blocking crypto-mining scripts by default. If you’re happy digging in the inspector, you can build your own custom packages to block anything you want. You can only create rules on macOS, they will sync to iOS automatically.

best safari content blocker
1Blocker includes a powerful custom package builder that allows users more control of their browsing experience

I don’t run ads on this site, in fact I have been woefully inadequate at encouraging more support of the site. 1  However, there a numerous sites I frequent that include some form of relatively subtle advertising. I use the free Disconnect browser extension to visualise the trackers set by sites, if I’m happy the site is not doing anything nefarious I can whitelist it in 1Blocker. The result is an internet experience that doesn’t make me want to scratch my own eyes out.  As a considerable bonus,  it allows me to support people doing what I consider to be the right thing.

1Blocker is available on macOS, and has both a free and premium version on iOS

The Appademic is giving away 5 free copies of DEVONthink to Go for iOS. Find the details here

 

  1. Something I will have to address soon, if it is to live on ↩︎

 

Ad targeters are pulling data from your browser’s password manager | The Verge

This from The Verge. Not for nothing, I urge the use of a password manager, but I have never been an advocate of the built version from your browser. Even if this method is new, unfortunately browsers are generally under siege,

The researchers examined two different scripts — AdThink and OnAudience — both of are designed to get identifiable information out of browser-based password managers. The scripts work by injecting invisible login forms in the background of the webpage and scooping up whatever the browsers autofill into the available slots. That information can then be used as a persistent ID to track users from page to page, a potentially valuable tool in targeting advertising.

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1Password X: A look at the future of 1Password in the browser | AgileBits Blog

While we are on this particular train. Agile Bits have done a lot for user security, with the release of their new browser based app, the are doing more. The 1Password X  browser will also allow Linux and Chrome OS users to get in on the act. It's not something that I need personally, but I can see how this will be useful. They write:

Wouldn’t it be cool if 1Password could do X?” is a question we often ask ourselves. The values for X are always changing, but some ideas come up again and again. Wouldn’t it be cool if…

• When you log in to a site, 1Password is right there on the page ready to fill?

• You could use 1Password without downloading the app?

• Linux users and Chrome OS users could join in on the fun?

Now 1Password can do all these and more. We call it 1Password X, and it’s our brand new, full-featured experience that runs entirely in your browser. It’s super easy to set up, deploy, and use. It works everywhere Chrome works, including Linux and Chrome OS. And it’s a re-imagination of how 1Password works on the web.

The Motherboard Guide to Not Getting Hacked – Motherboard

I have been slowly adding more security and privacy content to this site recently. I believe you can do a lot to protect yourself with a little bit of knowledge. Security guides like this from Motherboard are a good place to start. As they put it:

There are lots of things you can do to make it much more difficult for hackers or would-be surveillers to access your devices and accounts, and the aim of this guide is to give you clear, easy-to-follow steps to improve your digital security. There are, broadly speaking, two types of hacks: Those that are unpreventable by users, and those you can generally prevent. We want to help you mitigate the damage of the first and prevent the second from happening.

If you are looking into these things, the best place to start to my mind is with a password manager. My favourite is 1Password. If you want to go further, start looking at a VPN. I have also posted recently on data security and cloud storage.

Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention vs Shady Trackers

Nick Heer over at Pixel Envy comments on Criteo’s Earnings report, as a quick case study for the effectiveness of Safari’s new Intelligent Tracking Protection. The results are not as comprehensive as I would hope, but I hold out hope the machine learning aspect of the engine means we can expect some improvement. It won’t stop shady operators from thinking this is a legitimate practice, or from finding new and exciting ways to track you on your internet adventures. So expect all kinds of new efforts to undermine the wishes of users. These agencies are shameless when it comes to their so-called workarounds, so I’ll defend Nick against his own charge of being petty here:

It appears that there’s definitely some effect on the ability for Criteo’s shitty script to work, but they’re estimating that it’s still about 50% effective. Perhaps this is just petty of me, but I wish ITP reduced Criteo’s script to 0% efficacy. The lengths to which Criteo has gone to — and will go to, according to the last sentence of that quote — in order for them to track users is an indication that they aren’t following the spirit of users’ wishes.