How to exploit big tech companies legally

Until a few years ago, it was possible to use Facebook on mobile devices through browser without having to download any apps. On the mobile version of the website, a user was able to do pretty much everything they could do on the desktop version of it.

However, Facebook began insisting on downloading its Messenger app to use the messages. First, it would show the user a reminder to download the app when he or she navigates to the messages. However, the user still had a choice to dismiss the reminder and proceed to the messages.

Eventually, you could no longer just dismiss the prompt. Facebook would not allow you to use manage your messages without downloading the app.

Although the app is easy to use, there are many legitimate reasons why somebody wouldn’t want it. It takes up storage space and uses up your data, while the website only uses the data while you are looking at it. Also, the app requires many fairly intrusive permissions, such as access to your media and contacts.

Although I personally trust that Facebook would not use the data for malicious purposes, many people wouldn’t be so comfortable with it. Last but not least, I, as many people out there, don’t like being forced to accept something I don’t want.

Luckily, it is very easy to avoid downloading the app and carrying on using Facebook through the browser. Both Chrome and Safari browsers allow you to open any site in desktop mode. On Chrome, “request desktop site” is available when you click on three dots in the top-right corner. On Safari, the option is available when you tap and hold the refresh button.

The page will look exactly the same as before. The only difference is that you can now access your messages with no hassle. And there is not much Facebook could do to close this loophole.

When you request a web page in desktop mode, your browser sends a request that looks the same as what would have been sent if the request was made from a desktop; therefore the server that hosts the website believes that it’s communicating with a desktop computer and sends the corresponding content back.

This hack also works for any other websites that are forcefully offering you to download yet another app. However, there don’t seem to be too many other websites that are as forceful as Facebook. Most of the websites have a relatively polite offer of an app, which can be very easily dismissed.

Access unlimited content on subscription websites without subscription

There are many websites out there that allow you to read a limited number of articles or view a limited number of videos before you have to register and pay for subscription. The good news is, that in most of such cases, you can get over this limit without much effort at all.

Although there are some websites out there that handle the demo content properly, most of the websites rely purely on cookies to find out how many articles or videos you have already viewed. Therefore, clearing your browser’s cookies resets the counter to zero and allows you to do it all over again.

People behind such websites are probably aware of this loophole. However, as only relatively few people know about this little hack and, of those who do, many aren’t prepared to do it on the ground of ethical believes, the owners of the websites probably don’t consider this to be a problem worth investing into.

Also, many of such websites have more streams of revenue than subscription fees. For example, many display adverts on their pages. Therefore, implementing simple solutions, such as requiring everyone to register before they can view anything at all, would probably cut their revenue instead of improving it.

Block the ads on video sites that force you to disable AdBlock

Many people these days are aware of AdBlock, a browser plugin that hides most of the adverts on the websites. As well as being effective at hiding embedded ads on the pages, the plugin also stops video ads from showing. At the time of writing, it works perfectly well on YouTube.

However, there are many video websites out there that took notice of this and have dedicated whole teams of software developers to prevent users from using any ad blocking plugins. Unfortunately, these are usually the websites with the highest density of the most annoying adverts per video, such as on-demand catch-up TV channels. In such cases, when AdBlock is on, instead of a video, a user would see a full-screen instruction to disable the plugin.

Fortunately, there is a work-around even for this. This is, however, a loophole that may be closed by software engineers quite easily, so it is not guaranteed to work on every video website out there.

Normally, the script to check whether your browser has ad blocking plugin enabled only runs at the beginning of the video when the first advert is shown and no script would run afterwards. Therefore, the solution would be to disable the AdBlock, let the first advert to finish playing and then re-enable the plugin. You can now enjoy the rest of the video without any ads.

Viewing content that is not available in your country

Different countries have different laws and, because of this, there are some content that is available in some countries, but not the others. For example, Russia has recently banned pretty much half of the web content. However, even in democratic Western countries, sometimes things get banned for very obscure reasons.

The good news is that the web allows you to pretend that you are not located in the country that you are actually located in. In this article, we have already covered 3 ways of doing so: VPN’s, proxies and Tor browser.

Tor browser is probably not the best solution if all you want is just to watch a YouTube video that your friend from across the world has shared on Facebook, as it is relatively slow and it doesn’t provide a guarantee which country your final request will be sent from. It well may be another country where this video is banned.

Proxies and VPN’s grant you control over which country you are pretending to be from. An example of proxies can be found on this page, however clicking on any of the links is solely your responsibility, as we don’t guarantee that none of them are malicious.

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