Browsing the web is inherently risky to your privacy, because web pages and browsers, in their basic function, were never designed with privacy in mind. In recent years, Apple has strengthened the privacy protections in Safari, and browsers like Brave and FireFox have completely re-engineered browsers to add more built-in privacy features as well.
But these and other browsers still rely on extensions (or Content Blockers as Apple calls this specific category of extensions) to add the strongest privacy protections.
There are two primary ways that web pages put your privacy at risk:
- Ads: While ads may clutter your screen or share unwelcomed messages, they also contain code within the ad image or video that track what you do, help compile behavioral profiles on you, and lead to more and more targeted ads.
- Trackers: Dedicated trackers are invisible, but exist only to grab data about you, your devices, or your life. They monitor who you are, what you do, and contribute whatever data they can grab to ever growing profiles that are used by advertisers, marketers, political campaigns, and others to sell to you, price discriminate, and generally manipulate or influence you.
This is why we strongly recommend everyone install a tracker blocking extension (AKA: Content Blocker) in every browser that they use. .
For MacOS and iOS, one of our favorites is Better Blocker.
Better Blocker for Content Blocking
Better Blocker is a simple ad and tracker blocker created by two indie developers. Better uses a custom and curated list of blocking rules and is a native content blocker, meaning it will block content in your Safari browser as well as any apps that use Safari to display in-app web content. So if you’re using an iOS app and click on a link that opens a webpage within that app, Better works to block ads and trackers within the browser in the app.
The Set Up
Setting up Better works like setting up most Safari extensions. You download it from their website (or look for it on the App store), install it, and turn it on in your mobile device or your browser on your Mac device (available in Settings > Safari on iPhones, and in Safari > Preferences on Mac devices).
Once you turn it on, Better will start blocking trackers and ads.
Browsing with Better
If you’ve never used an ad or content blocker before, using Better is a comfort for most. Websites will load faster because they don’t have heavy ad content or tracking to load as you jump from site to site. You’ll also face fewer interruptions and are able to get to websites faster because there are no ads to click out of or scroll through.
Better also recommends keeping the Better app open as you use Safari on Mac devices as it will give you the most updated blocking list available. Updating the app does the same on all Apple devices.
On occasion, a website may not work properly with Better—this is an experience that’s common among all ad and content blockers. Either the site won’t load properly or will stop you from accessing the content you want. If you run into that issue, you can add the website to Better’s Do Not Block list or just reload Safari with Content Blockers turned off. Once a site is added to the Do Not Block list, it will always load without any blocking on.
Why Choose Better?
There are many content and ad blocker options available but we think Better deserves consideration for a number of reasons.
You can purchase the app directly from the app store for a one-time payment of $1.99, which provides you with the app and any blocking list updates.
It’s very open
The app is open-source, meaning anyone can compile the app using the source code if they’re technically able. Better also provides their blocking rules list for free so users can use the list on other platforms.
Better uses a custom curated blocking list that is updated regularly. They also pay attention to which websites don’t work properly with Better so they know how to configure the blocker to work with most websites. This dedicated attention isn’t found on all content blockers.
Better doesn’t take external money
Some ad blockers or content blockers either have parent companies in the advertising or data collection industry, which is its own conflict of interest. Some ad blockers also keep white lists influenced by advertisers willing to pay the ad blockers to be whitelisted. It’s essentially a pay for play that taints the effectiveness and trustworthiness of the ad blocker.
Better doesn’t take any of that money and is instead largely supported by voluntary support and donations that allows them to supports other privacy and surveillance combating initiatives.
Better doesn’t read your data
By design, Better passes its block list straight to Safari to enable all of the actual blocking, meaning Better can never read or see your traffic.
When it comes to content blockers you can do Better
We like Better because it’s a small, trustworthy company that’s good at what it says it does – blocking ads and trackers – without compromising itself or your privacy for the sake of chasing a profit. It’s a free tool that’s easy to set up and even easier to use. If you’re not currently using a content blocker, you could do worse than Better.
Screenshots provided by Better