A safe site is good because in the end the user must trust the provider. When a site has bad security practices, the user should be warned about it. If these practices are widespread in the community, then they shouldn’t be used by other users, as this is just going to be a bad experience for everybody.
The same applies to websites that offer a lot of advertisements. These are only sites that have a good user experience because of their good security policies. The user shouldn’t feel pressured by these ads.
It’s important to note that if a social network or a search engine offers no ad blocking features (for some reason their terms of service may not include this, though) they haven’t completely removed the option to filter their content. And the social network or search engine could change their stance if it started to hurt their user experience or revenue, since they might use ads to generate money for themselves.
One reason we don’t include ad blocking features in our tests is that this is a very subjective assessment, and it can be hard for any person to decide if ads reduce the quality of the experience.
For us, we find the results of our tests very valuable because they help us understand what is actually good security practices, and what is bad.
It’s not as if there aren’t any other tests that offer similar comparisons, either. Google Adsense has a similar comparison tool you can set up as well as other similar tools. We’ve also talked to Google about this topic and they told us that there are similar comparisons between various sites using the same or similar methods and that they are regularly reviewing their own sites and taking feedback from users for this purpose.
Do these results prove anything?
Our results are all pretty straightforward. There’s no one way that is good enough to be the best at detecting security practices, and there are always exceptions.
If you think we missed an obvious security practice because the tests aren’t rigorous enough, please post a note in the comments; we would love to know about it!
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