Beyond Safari: New Ad Blocking App Extends To Native Apps, Including Facebook And Apple News

Another ad blocker is on the scene, however, this one is designed to block ads in native apps such as Facebook and Apple’s own News app, as well as Safari on iOS 9 devices. In what would seem an ironic play, the content blocker, called Been Choice, gives users the choice of blocking ads in exchange for sharing data to earn rewards.

To block ads in native apps, Been Choice uses a VPN service (more details available at TechCrunch, which first covered the app). I’ve tested it out on the Facebook app and saw no ads served up in linked articles. Same goes for articles from multiple publishers on Apple News — no ads. The app can also block native ads. While I briefly saw a promoted pin in the Pinterest app, it quickly refreshed and all the ads were gone. No ads in the New York Times app or the Yahoo app. It’s not able to touch ads in the YouTube app or in Twitter, however.

The “Block. Earn. Choose.” pitch from Been Choice goes something like this: Users can toggle back and forth within the Been Choice app between “block” and “earn.” In earn mode, users agree to share their behavioral data — a lot of it — with Been Choice in exchange for earning points that turn into payments.

I tried to test out earn mode, but got an “Earn Mode is Full” message with an option to provide my email in order to get a spot when it opens up. So the developers are gathering emails, as well as all that data. It seems a hard sell to get people who are actively looking for ways to stop sharing their data with publishers and advertisers to voluntarily exchange it for some small payments from an app developer.

Above is a page from the privacy policy outlining the types of data the app collects in earn mode, including the basic device and carrier information, as well as browsing data and “content of your communications and transactions.” The developers say they may make this data available to third parties, minus personally identifying information.

Update 10/9: Apple has removed Been Choice and similar apps from the App Store over privacy concerns.


About The Author

Ginny Marvin
As Third Door Media's paid media reporter, Ginny Marvin writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She provides search marketing and demand generation advice for ecommerce companies and can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.