Ad-blocker Ghostery published its entire programming code on Thursday. By going open source, the company aims to clear the air on its old business model and invite others to contribute to its continuing development.
“As a privacy product, especially one designed to give users a look behind the scenes at what data companies are collecting and doing with it, we thought it was important to give our users a look under the hood,” Ghostery’s product manager Jeffrey Tillman said.
This unprecedented move was Ghostery’s response to conspiracy theories hounding the company. Before its acquisition by web browser Cliqz last year, previous owner Evidon earned money for Ghostery by selling users’ data. Software users chose to disclose information on ad trackers they encountered, but the compiled information was sold to eCommerce sites to help them discover why loading times slowed down.
We’re excited to announce that we’re now officially #OpenSource. This change demonstrates Ghostery’s commitment to transparency and creating the best tools for our users. https://t.co/g3zDhfcP0Q #GhostyGoesOpen #ghostery #security #privacy #adblocker #antitracking #ai pic.twitter.com/G4IvLbgh2E
— Ghostery (@Ghostery) March 8, 2018
Ghostery’s old business model was contradictory—a privacy-focused tool selling user data—and confused its users. “It was never a really great fit for Ghostery the consumer product,” Tillman admitted.
Recently, Ghostery announced two revenue streams as its new business model. First is Ghostery Insights, a paid analytics service for researchers to gather more data about the tracker ecosystem. Likewise, the analytics tool will aid web developers in quantifying the effect of trackers on site performance, such as loading speeds.
Meanwhile, Ghostery Rewards is an affiliate marketing program designed for its users. They can choose to sign up for the service wherein users will receive relevant promotional offers, a tamer version of aggressive web ads. There will still be advertisements, but only those worthwhile and interesting to Ghostery users.
Of course, affiliate programs are nothing new as many publications and bloggers already use them to generate revenue. However, Ghostery’s decided to make its program distinctly different from that of its main rival Adblock Plus. Unlike Ghostery Rewards, Adblock has an “acceptable ads program” that shows ads that may not be relevant to the user. As long as advertisers meet certain criteria and agree to split some of their ad revenue, Adblock lets them through.
Exposing Ghostery’s code to the public makes it more vulnerable for software developers to sidestep the ad blocker’s system. But Tillman isn’t losing sleep over it.
“There will always be a cat-and-mouse game with advertisers that are trying to find new ways to evade our technology but, if anything, going open-source should empower our community of contributors to help keep Ghostery ahead of the curve,” Tillman pointed out.[Featured image via YouTube]