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What would an ad-free internet look like?

Authors Kathy Nickels
Date 30 November 2022

In this ABC Radio National Life Matters episode, reporter Nat Tencic explores the relationship between ads, the internet and us.

Nat Tencic does some personal research on advertising on her Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds. She said the results “weren’t comforting”. 

In 5 minutes of scrolling on each platform Nat found that on:

  • Instagram 28% of story slides were advertisements (12 ads within 43 story slides) 
  • Facebook 31% of posts were advertisements (21 ads within 68 posts)
  • Twitter 20% ot tweets were advertisements (1 in 5 tweets were promoted)
  • Tik Tok 21% of videos were ads (3 ads and 11 regular videos)

Nat talks to Prof Julian Thomas and Dr Jathan Sadowski from the ADM+S Centre to imagine an internet with new priorities. You also hear from James Clark, Executive Director of Digital Rights Watch about a possible hack to block ads at home. 

ADM+S researcher, Dr Jathan Sadowski says that the internet has been shaped by advertising in ways that are so fundamental and so ubiquitous that he believes it’s actually easier to think about the ways the internet has not been shaped by advertising. 

“Advertising is so integral to every aspect of the internet as we experience it, as it’s built, as it’s designed, as it’s operated.” he says. 

“The reasons why websites exist and the reasons why we experience them in the way that we do often comes down to advertising in some way. Whether it’s the collection of data for advertising, or the serving of advertising.”

Listen to the full episode What would an ad-free internet look like? on ABC Radio National Life Matters.


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