Sky’s internet service mistakenly blocks web-critical plugin

Sky blocked jQuery, a plugin crucial to the operation of many of the internet’s biggest websites, after wrongly classifying it as malware on Sunday night

A plugin critical to the operation of thousands of websites was disabled for hours by Sky Broadband’s parental content filters over Sunday night and Monday morning.

Access to the code.jquery.com website was blocked by Sky’s content filters after the domain was mistakenly listed in the “malware and phishing” category. The site hosts code for jQuery, a code library which is used by over three-quarters of the top ten-thousand websites to ease the burden of creating responsive websites

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“JQuery was temporarily blocked this morning having been misclassified. Our review process kicked in shortly afterward, and the site was unblocked just over an hour later,” said Sky in a statement.

 

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Without jQuery, sites like Google are unable to deliver the sort of instant response which internet users expect, and are forced to fall back to designs which require the entire page to be refreshed every time it is changing. The code required to enable those instant responses is usually hosted on one of three “content delivery networks,” run by Google, Microsoft and jQuery itself. It was this latter CDN which was blocked by Sky.

It is unknown how jQuery ended up classified as malware, and for exactly how long it was blocked, although it was eventually removed from the list at 9:45 am and understands that the most likely explanation is that an actual malware site was using code hosted on jQuery, causing the latter to be incorrectly categorised.

Due to the malware label, the network was even blocked for users who had selected “18+” on Sky’s content filters. Only those users who opted out entirely could access a fully working internet.

The news adds a further twist to the debate over opt-in content filters. Despite being introduced by most major ISPs in the midst of a debate about access to porn and child protection, the filters block far more than just sexually explicit material.

For instance, Sky Broadband Shield’s main filter also blocks sites classed as “dating,” “cyber bullying” and “anonymisers, filesharing, and hacking,” while BT’s parental controls offer parents the option of blocking “sex education” and “social networking” categories.

Some sites have been incorrectly filed in these categories; in December, for example, an LGBT charity in the capital called London Friend was blocked by TalkTalk having been classified as “pornographic.”
Thought you missed out on having your emotions tweaked by Facebook’s mood manipulation back in 2012? This free Chrome plugin is for you.

The brand new Facebook Mood Manipulator Chrome extension gives users the power to control their emotions by modifying their Facebook news feeds accordingly.

“Why should Zuckerberg get to decide how you feel? Take back control,” says Lauren McCarthy, the New York-based developer of the plugin on her site.

Happy Mood
As positive as it gets Photograph: Lauren McCarthy
Installing the plugin gives users four sliders for positive, emotional, aggressive and open emotions, which use the same system that Facebook used for its emotional contagion study, called Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC), to analyze the words in posts and remove those that don’t fit within the selected parameters.

“But with internet advertising and marketing we do not but have this dedication to nice: we have beside the point, out-of-context flashing banners and occasional fee advert network gifs about losing weight in a single smooth trick. We have rollovers that cross ‘over’ without being ‘rolled.’ There are autoplay video commercials, and lots else, to disrupt the enjoy.”

The debate isn’t approximately the pursuits of Adblock Plus, but the methods. “I do assume there is some thing slightly sanctimonious approximately Adblock,” says Smith. “I surprise if they’d be more successful as a strain group campaigning to make the web better, rather than a tollbooth for on line content.”

“Ironically… Adblock Plus is itself funded through marketing, via the whitelisted publishers,” adds Blanchard. “Overall, I assume it’d be fine for the Acceptable Advertising movement if an alternative business model can be determined.”

But the plugin also has a few unlikely allies. “I think they’re doing an amazing thing blocking off the one’s advertisements. It’s for the coolest of advertisers,” says Princely Bibi, a research specialist at advert organization Coast Digital. “People have to be able to select whether they may be served advertisements. Advertising is ready offering a carrier, so I must have a choice approximately what commercials are shown to me and what ads aren’t proven to me.”

Adblock Plus’s spokesperson says: “It’s likely a protracted manner off, but the logical final results of Acceptable Ads is a day with simplest marginal adblocking use – because advertisers might have eventually found out that they do now not want to annoy users. So in that feel, you can say that if our initiative is successful, it’ll lessen the desirability of the usage of ABP or different adblockers – that’s part of the reason that we want to increase additional merchandise with [parent company] Eyeo. As we say, purging horrific ads is just a begin to a higher internet.”

“Aw yes, we are all freaked about the ethics of the Facebook study. And then what?” asks McCarthy. “What implications does this finding have for what we might do with our technologies? What would you do with an interface to your emotions?”

Bad feelings
Feeling sad. Photograph: Lauren McCarthy
Users will be able to conduct experiments on themselves to see how they feel over time. It could revolutionize the Facebook experience to a much happier, brighter one. Or it could do absolutely nothing.

Either way, users can now “leverage Facebook’s own research to manipulate your emotions on your terms.”