EarthLink Shuts Down Pop-Ups

Internet service provider EarthLink this morning launched an upgraded Pop-Up Blocker designed to combat unwanted rich media ads.

The tool is free for the Atlanta company’s 5 million subscribers and can be downloaded at earthlink.net/home/software.

EarthLink’s plan to offer the tool was first reported by internetnews.com late last month. It is meant to inspire customer loyalty among customers by improving their online experience.

“Pop-up ads are evolving, and EarthLink is the first major ISP to include a rich media blocking feature that stops this annoyance from becoming a problem,” said Rob Kaiser, an EarthLink vice president.

In addition to standard pop-ups, Kaiser said the tool also surpresses animated and audio-enabled cartoons that move across Web pages. It does so by preventing Macromedia’s Flash, a common technology used in most rich media advertising, from appearing on users screens. EarthLink believes these “screen stealing” ads will constitute almost half of all Web ads served by year’s end.

Pop-Up Blocker has two levels of pop-up blocking. ‘Full’ stops all pop-ups. ‘Normal’ allows users to enable pop-up windows on all ‘clicked’ hyperlinks like calendars or charts and conduct business on secure Web sites, such as online banking or e- commerce transactions, while still continuing to block superfluous pop-up ads.

EarthLink has garnered a bevy of attention for its anti-spam efforts, including a recent $16 million judgment against Howard Carmack, the so-called “Buffalo Spammer.” New York’s attorney general, Elliot Spitzer, later credited EarthLink with aiding the investigation of Carmack that led to his arrest last month.

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