(So originally I was just replying to the claim that there's no content provider revenue being lost if you could effectively choose not be affected by TV ads compared to using adblock to block internet ads (I don't know if we reached any agreement but anyway, I think the argument would start going in circles). Now I've actually skimmed through the most of the thread to try to not repeat any already handled points).
Mambrino wrote:Another contrived example. If someone set a shop in manner that you could steal from it without any realistic possibility of getting caught and the losses you cause to shop owner are only a statistic (or not even that, if there's so little shoplifters that they are hidden in the random noise). Or TV sets could report if the ads are really being watched, thus trumping Nielsen methods and being on par with internet ads?
We have chosen as a society to say that shoplifting is wrong and codified it. No implicit contracts. And smart TV's almost certainly could and may well be doing exactly that. All sites using ads this way could use a click through to the content that asks the consumer to consent to this implicit contract. And some do. But as a guess that one click would probably cost them more revenue than ad blockers. Because the cost would be explicit.
Well, my point wasn't to say much anything about implicit contracts but whether there is a fundamental or less real effect on revenue stream if you just couldn't measure which users manage not to watch the ads attached to the content (thus, I argue "muting TV ads is OK but adblock isn't OK because of revenue lost" is an inconsistent position.) Personally I wouldn't equate shoplifting to adblocking because of this and other reasons, and as a moral norm "skipping the ads is not ethical" is quite absurd (I'll try to explain my point).
Let's first talk about implicit contracts in general. The important thing is that unless it's made explicit, you may well be the only one who assumes the contract is in place: the other party may very well think they haven't entered any contract at all, until you explicitly raise the issue.
For example, let's look at the supermarket again. I've never seen any contract or tutorial or instructions how one is supposed to behave in a supermarket. Usually people just pick it up, I guess. Shoplifting has been discussed to the death, and right, it's pointed out that's codified in laws, explicitly. However, have you ever signed a contract that you actually have to abide by laws? I think only the persons who apply for a citizenship in a new country do sign papers and maybe recite vows that constitute as explicitly agreeing to a contract.
But maybe let's pick a more clearly implicit contract, like a thing like that you should line up before the cashier and not to jump the queue. If you don't abide by this, the other people in the queue will be quite angry with you. They will probably show they displeasure, and once I've even seen the cashier to give a stern "dude, not OK" look to person who did something like that.
(By the way, this kind of assumed implicit social contract of supermarket behaviour did cause serious confusion when the German chain Lidl entered here a decade ago. Their idea about the implicit social contract how the customer is supposed to pack their groceries was totally alien to the populace and caused serious confusion early on. Lidl thought that no conveyor belt at all on the cash desk after the register would suffice, because people would lift their shoppings into a shopping cart / cardboard box as soon as the cashier had hit them in the register
. Nowadays they have
conveyor belts after the register too, like the other stores here. Actually their belts in the new shops are even longer than it that picture.)
Another implicit contract is that you're supposed not to throw trash around in a public spaces. If there is a problem with trashing, the authorities will start putting up explicit signs against that (in some countries they will even fine you for that). Or like in the rental apartment complex I once lived in, they delivered the tenants a notice that "no, you're not supposed to pile up your furniture (instead of parking your car) on your parking spot in parking hall, even if you pay for the spot and we didn't thought about that while writing the rules".
My point is that most of the actual implicit social contracts I am aware of are enforced by the other people if you break them (or at least, the other people will show their negative reaction, if that counts as an enforcement). The most important ones get codified in laws and become more explicit that way, and there's assumption people abide by it. The most explicit contract is the one you can actually choose to enter, and the terms are more or less clearly written on a paper and you can even hire a lawyer to check what they entail.
Furthermore, whether not breaking these implicit contracts is something you're ethically required to do or not is a different question. Jumping the queue and littering the park are wrong not because there is an implicit contract in place to not to do that, but because they are harmful for the society as whole (if you go by the utilitarian ethics, or maybe some other reason given by your ethical theory, whatever your ethical theory is). I'd argue that's the reason
the people assume the implicit contract and that you act in accordance with it.
This point has been raised already by others, but even if there's an assumed 'implicit contract' of ads (which is a position I agree can be defended), why I should obliged to abide by it (watch the ads)? Before this thread I don't remember never encountering an idea that I would have moral obligation
to watch the ads.
The content providers attach ads to otherwise free content assuming that people will see the ads too, and the ads are effective, and for that reason the advertisers would pay the content providers serious money. Where does a contract that obliges
me to watch the ads enter the picture? The content provider just (correctly) assumes that most people don't try to circumvent it.
However, now that Adblock has been around some time, some providers choose to offer me a contract. For example, blocking me altogether if they notice the adblocker, and requesting to disable it to enjoy the content. This would lend some credibility to the fact that at least the content provider has assumed there is such contract, and now chooses make the contract explicit. Usually at this point I choose not to use the service anymore.
For example, I understand that our city has an agreement with a company called JCDecaux that they maintain the bus stops and the company can sell the ad space on those bus stops. This is profitable to JCDecaux because there's lot of bus stops and they get to sell lots of ads that are seen by many people. Is there an implicit social contract in place? Am I obliged
to look at the ads when waiting for the bus? Personally I often try not to, which is quite impossible, though. So I'm forced to mentally resist any artificial urges to buy things I otherwise wouldn't, if I can recognize and realize what they are. This makes life very irritating.
If people could effectively avoid the street ads, the deal wouldn't be profitable for JCDecaux anymore, and the city would have to pay explicitly for the bus stops instead of paying by allowing covertly allowing 3rd parties try to affect what the city dwellers would like to buy. I'd prefer that way, and it's one reason I consider when voting in municipal elections. Suppose I could get a Google Glass -like thing from a future that would block the ads from my visuals, and make the ad avoiding effective, would that be immoral? And as pointed out by others, those are quite benign form of advertising compared to internet ads that are actively harmful to your computer.
Of course, even the more traditional kind of advertising is done with decades worth of psychological knowledge about how to manipulate you and your feelings, natural urges and beliefs about your social standing to do things that might not be in your rational self-interest. Because of this I don't consider a very large portion of advertising a fair deal
and I dedicate some of my mental processing time to actively attempt even some mild combat against the ads I can't avoid.
(edit2. I later thought I could be clearer: I don't think the deal they offer - "have the free content and watch the ads" - is fair one; advertisers probably know much more about how to influence me and my decisions than I do. Of course I can opt for not, and I e.g. actively prefer BBC and local public broadcaster that doesn't have ads, but still that restricts life quite much, because the majority of other people don't consider this an issue. I'm suddenly reminded of the passage in Fahrenheit 451 where Montag throws a fit because the other people in the subway don't stop singing along to the toothpaste jingle.)
I choose to use adblock, noscript and some other addons to make my websurfing more safe for me because most of the stuff those things block would more or less malicious. Occasionally I whitelist stuff, but because the chosen method of generating revenue by many content providers is what is it, the most sane way is to block things by default.
I'd prefer if I could subscribe to some things or pay otherwise instead of watching ads. I do pay for Spotify instead of listening to their ads, and I have bought merch from some creators I like, but most of the deals offered are not agreeable. For example, it used to be that when someone linked to an interesting article on some newspaper's webpage, paper would either have ads or a subscription option (or maybe force a paywall), but I really can't afford to subscribe to a paper to read just that one linked article. (Today some such providers allow you to share links to articles if you've yourself a paying subscriber, which is surprisingly sane idea).(some minor language + etc edits)