Most of the Internet has been free to access since the beginning. Obviously you have to pay your ISP, but once you're logged on, most of the most popular sites are completely free for you to access. Except they're not.
Ads foot the bill for your content in most cases. From your Facebook feed to your Google search results, ads are everywhere, allowing websites to remain free while still paying their employees and making a profit. In recent years though, ad-blocking software has become more popular, and Apple's new mobile operating system, iOS 9, will allow developers to create ad-blocking software for the mobile Safari Web browser.
This has companies freaking out because it undermines the websites' entire economic model. "Advertising is the economic engine that drives the free Internet," the senior vice president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau told the New York Post. If enough users adopt ad-blocking software, many sites will put up paywalls (as some newspapers, like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, have already done), or require you to purchase a paid app.
Some sites, like Hulu and the Washington Post, are already reacting. Hulu rejects users with ad blockers, and the Washington Post redirects you to a subscription page if it detects an ad blocker. And some publishers are working on getting around ad blockers altogether.
Would you sacrifice cold, hard cash to avoid online ads? Let us know what you think of this digital dilemma in the comments below.