Enshittification is coming for everything

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/02/13/enshittification-is-coming-for-everything.html


Thanks for the archive link (though there’s something poetic about an article about enshitification hidden behind a paywall).


Proves his entire point, really…


Have you tried using ANY website (or at least the vast majority of websites) without an adblocker? It’s not really an individual problem, it’s a modern internet problem. I wonder why we keep calling out individuals to solve problems that are collective? Maybe because it’s easier than helping to demand change on a systemic level?


An interesting data point I learned reading this: more than half of web users are now using adblockers.

And the other 60% are Bots.


Just more reinforcement of Doctorow’s point I suppose.


I suppose the point is that the internet and its contents cost money, and someone has to pay somehow.

The enshittification is a sort of digital form of the current wave of shrinkflation and skimpflation we’re seeing in physical shops. Caused by major internet companies spending less on their offerings in order to inflate their profits.

I’m not so bothered by ads on websites, partly because there’s only about a dozen sites I look at regularly. I am significantly annoyed by how shitty Google search has become, though. You can look for practically anything and the first page of ranked results is often just adverts.


Enshittification has been a thing for some time in the non-profit software systems space. Many non-profits don’t have the funds to change platforms when the one they have is no longer upgraded or maintained.

The software companies aren’t incentivized to be competitive.


That, or fucking Pinterest links (if you’re searching via image). Though this has been a problem for at least a decade.


Please indulge my rant.

Over the past week, I’ve had to deal with a hosting service that didn’t include a close button on its chat window. I would log out, then sign in and the chat window always appeared, covering 1/3 of the screen. Tech support’s solution was to change the size of the screen, not to figure out how to close the window (the only solution is to clear the cache every time, which is no solution at all).

And don’t get me started on my mobile carrier that advertises offers on TV, then are not to be found on the carrier’s app.

This is how civilizations die.


I used Brave browser here and other similar sites. A lot less visual distractions and no loss of content as (I assume) browsers with built in blocking is more effective


Lemme stop you right there: you’re saying this couldn’t have happened sans capitalism :thinking:


I have multiple ad blockers and even use one for youtube because using the web otherwise is just pain.


generally, incentives means some sort of reward. so i think that formulation misses the mark.

we’ve restrained things like monopoly laws ( which maybe could have reined in amazon, google, microsoft, and apple. ) and we haven’t formulated any new laws or policies to address the negative ways in which tech companies operate ( maybe the word is monopsony? ) all while allowing extreme concentrations of wealth via our tax code.

anyway, i don’t think we can carrot our way out of this. some good stick however might help.


Pop Tv Yes GIF by Schitt's Creek

And of course, it’s difficult for any website to maintain itself independently, without ads…


Zero per cent of app users are running ad blockers, because adding a blocker to an app requires that you first remove its encryption, and that’s a felony.

Not really. If you are on Android, install Block-This.

It sets up a VPN on your phone and blocks ALL ads in ALL applications.

Not available on the Play Store. Imagine that.

I still don’t recommend that you install an app unless there is no website alternative.


In this case I’m not talking about positive economic incentives, but general behavioral incentives (e.g. lack of evolutionary pressures).

The internal incentive set of an organization is broken when it can increase prices and limit the cost of meaningful system upgrades without concern that their (in this case) non-profit customers are going to move to another platform. There are other platforms, so not monopsony, but they’re all working with the same lack of market pressure.


There is a world of difference between having ad banners and commercials playing here and there, and being tracked, everywhere you go, having people sell your biometric data to scrapers, so that you can never find a point of peace. The need to force advertising into every nook and cranny (e.g.: now we can ad distraction prevention tracking in your car… and then use it to sell ad space!) is pathological.

There’s absolutely a continuum and we’re well at one end of it. We’re looking at trying to blot out the sky or put ads in peoples’ dreams. As if people will be able to buy/consume more if we just find 5 seconds more, somewhere, somehow in their day. It’s all zero-sum bullshit, but more advertising == more effective is a wild thing for people to accept.


You don’t have to cape for capitalism. Every economic system has strong points and failure modes. It is, essentially, the primary failure mode of capitalism - when companies are trying to create as much value as they can to succeed, it works reasonably well. When they shift to extracting value, instead, is when it all goes to hell.

Realpage’s software, Private Equity, Social Media, Uber, and too many others to name.