You find different types of sponsored posts on the Internet. Those that are clearly labeled as such, those that have a label that is hard to find, and those that don't disclose that a post is sponsored at all even though it is.
Most Internet users may agree that the first kind is just fine, as the site is not trying to hide that you are reading a sponsored post. The second type is in a gray area, it may be fine for some while others may dislike it, and the third type is definitely not okay at all and may even go against rulings in this regard.
While you may be able to tell that a post is sponsored by looking at links or images used in the post, or by going through scripts loaded on the site, it is not something that many users may or even can do.
The free Firefox add-on and Chrome extension AdDetector changes this by highlighting sponsored posts so that you know right away if a post is sponsored or not.
You are probably wondering how it is doing it. If you check the source, you find several rules that are used for detection. If you take the New York Times website as an example: any content loaded from ad-assets.nytimes.com is flagged as being a sponsored post.
Here is the list of sites that are currently supported by it:
- New York Times
- The Atlantic
- The Onion
- Vanity Fair
- Washington Post
Not that many but several of the most popular US-English news and gossip sites out there. According to the author's Reddit announcement post, he is open to adding new sites to the rules and considers adding a user-based reporting or flagging option to the extension to improve the discovery of new sponsored posts and the inclusion in the rules.
For now, it is an interesting extension that has a lot of potential. If you happen to visit at least one of the sites supported by it regularly, you may find it useful, especially if that site is not disclosing sponsored posts at all or in a way that it is easily overlooked by people reading the article.