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Google's Manifest V3 will make the fight against third-party ad blockers even worse

Google's Manifest V3 will make the fight against third-party ad blockers even worse


After years of delays, Google is finally rolling out the Manifest V3 Chrome extension framework, urging extension developers to make the switch as it begins to phase out support for Manifest V2 in the Chrome Beta, Dev, and Canary channels.

According to X (formerly Twitter) user Leopeva64, Google is also sending out emails to users informing them that the extension is no longer supported and has been disabled.

One of the biggest concerns surrounding this move is that ad blockers that rely on the V2 framework will break because V3 is much more restrictive. For example, uBlock Origin requires around 300,000 rules to function properly, which is far more than the 30,000 hard limit in V3, and this number doesn't even include custom rules.

Chrome has also removed the blocking version of the WebRequest API, replacing it with the declarativeNetRequest API in V3. Unlike V2, this gives the browser, rather than ad blocking extensions, the final say on any request modifications, making ad blocking extensions much less effective at blocking ads or tracking requests.

Users and privacy advocates have raised alarms about the potential ripple effects this could have on online privacy and security, but some argue that because V3 is still in development, many of these issues could be ironed out in the future by Google and third-party developers (though they are present in the current version).

What is Google's purpose in helping ad blockers work with Manifest V3?

We sincerely believe that developers will create workarounds for these issues, but Google will block them every step of the way, as we can see with how the tech giant has stepped up its tactics against YouTube's ad-blocking extensions used on its Chrome browser.

Recently, users have reported that YouTube videos automatically skip to the end when ad-blocking extensions are enabled in their browsers, video buffering issues, and content unavailable error messages appearing in the app. Additionally, a new technique called server-side ad insertion is reportedly being tested, where websites embed ads directly into video content on their servers. Not only does this circumvent Chrome browser ad blocking, but it also appears to work for Mozilla users who use the uBlock extension. Thankfully, developers such as Sponsorblock, who first broke the news of SSAI, are already working on workarounds.

In other words, Google is continuing its fight against third-party ad blockers with Manifest V3, in combination with all the other tactics and tools it's currently testing with YouTube. If developers want to stay ahead of the curve and continue to run functioning extensions, they have to accept the fact that Google is going to fight back hard against this.

For now, if users are concerned about privacy and safety, it's time to switch to Mozilla Firefox. It's one of the few browsers that doesn't run on Chromium and offers a ton of extensions that protect your internet privacy at every level. It also recently announced that it won't drop support for Manifest V2 as it continues to build older MV3 Chrome compatibility with new updates.

In other words, if you're truly concerned about Chrome's upcoming privacy issues, do what you should have done years ago and switch to Firefox. Regardless of what Google is trying to do with its ad blockers, Mozilla is clearly committed to giving developers the tools they need to fight back.

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