Ads being blocked from news apps (e.g. NYT) | #macos | #macsecurity

I have a strange problem on my iPad (but NOT on my iPhone). Various news apps – notable example, NYT app, have missing ads. Grey empty space that says “advertisement”.

I realize many/most wouldn’t consider this a “problem”, lol. But it bothers me, because it suggests I have something installed that blocks them, and don’t know about it.

I have – in the past – tried a small number (2 or 3?) of ad-blocking apps, but long ago uninstalled them. I think the most recent was Firefox Focus. (which can, or could – at the time – block ads across all apps). I can’t remember the names of the 1 or 2 previous blockers I had – they were early ones, I think one was from some non-profit project. Maybe y’all can help me remember…

I’m thinking I must have some remnant of one of these that somehow didn’t get uninstalled.

Can anyone suggest likely apps that might be doing this? Anyone know of a way to check?

I think basically these apps act like a “VPN” app, even though they aren’t implementing a VPN. That gives them access to all network traffic, unencrypted (after SSL decrypt), which enables them to snip out the ads. (Except any app that does it’s own encryption of course – good tip for app developers!)

Also, the iPad suffers from “sticky keyboard syndrome” which suggests some 3rd-party keyboard extension and, yes, I’ve tried these in the past and uninstalled them.

Maybe what I need is a good security checker that can tell me (if that’s possible) if I have any: 3rd party keyboards, VPN software, phone screener, etc. etc. etc.

I’d rather not go through a full factory reset and reinstall of all apps, losing data. If that’s necessary, though, I do use iMazing, maybe some way to keep data as I reinstall apps? I guess “move apps offline” iOS Settings option might be quite helpful, as I have a large number of apps I’ve accumulated, and, frankly, don’t use most of them or use seldom. That is, I don’t expect this to solve the problem, but might ease the burden of a full reset.

iPad is old: iPad Air2 on current iOS 15.x version. Also has fading battery, which I’ve heard could be cause of keyboard delays, overall the thing keeps getting slower and slower. But repair shop told me I don’t need a battery if I’m getting several hours of use. (I just don’t get all day like I used to). iPhone is pretty new, 12 Plus Pro, so, yea, gets pretty annoying on the iPad, the CNN app for example is pretty useless on the iPad, CNN app must have pretty sucky code…

Edit: I have tested to make sure I have nothing on my home network blocking ads. Took my phone off my WiFi, turned on HotSpot, connected the iPad to the hotspot instead of home network. Same. I’ll do a test later on a neighbor’s WiFi just to make sure. I use Quad9 DNS on my home network, but not with any blocking.

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