AdChoices (Removal Guide) - Mar 2021 update

AdChoices Removal Guide

What is AdChoices?

AdChoices – a legitimate advertisement platform used by industry giants such as Google

AdChoices adsAdChoices is a legitimate advertising platform used by many high-profile organizations to monetize on ads

AdChoices is an advertisement service[1] used by multiple organizations in Canada, the United States and various parts of Europe. Companies that are participating in the self-regulatory campaign include Google, Microsoft, AT&T, Bloomberg and more than 200 others. Since companies like Google earn more than 85% of their revenue[2] through advertisements, targeted ads are what they are interested in.

When done right, personalized advertisement[3] is a great way of benefiting the end user and the third-party. However, this activity might raise some concerns when ads intentionally install adware or other PUPs on the user's computer. Besides, several industry experts are quite critical about how the gathered personal and non-personal information might be used.

Before you proceed with our removal guide, we would like to inform you that some of these ads cannot be eliminated, as they are embedded within the websites themselves (you can block some of the ads thanks to ad-blocking extensions, however). An abnormal amount of ads can indicate adware infection – and that is what we are here to talk about.

Summary
Name AdChoices
Type (if misused) Adware
Description Self-regulating advertisement service
Participants Google, Microsoft, AOL, etc.
Distribution Malicious ads, software bundling
Symptoms An increased amount of ads, installed add-ons, changed browser settings, redirects, etc.
Detection and elimination In case you noticed anything suspicious on your PC, scan it with ReimageIntego to fix corrupted files as a consequence of the virus

Various types of ads are following on every website and web page, but complaints start only when the browsing experience is diminished. Users claim that browsing the Internet becomes unbearable because of pop-ups, banners, and in-text ads appeared on their browsers. Frustrated users even call it “AdChoices virus”; however, we have to stress out it’s not a virus because the campaign is heavily regulated. However, it does not stop bad actors to deliver annoying PUP while abusing this service.

It’s a legitimate online advertising method that normally does not bother Internet users at all. An excessive amount of ads starts appearing when users accidentally install a particular add-on or adware[4] program. These applications are responsible for delivering commercial content and spread bundled with free software. Therefore, inattentive computer users usually install some program that floods their Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla browsers with ads, including:

  • Pop-ups
  • Pop-unders
  • Audio-ads
  • Video-ads
  • Hyperlinks
  • Etc.

These programs might sneak into both Mac and Windows operating systems, so they can affect all popular web browsers. Once you notice an increased amount of ads, scan your computer with a reputable anti-malware program, such as SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner, and remove AdChoices pop-ups. ReimageIntego will help you fix the outcomes caused by the virus, e.g. corrupted files.

AdChoices adwareWhile the service is legitimate, it does not stop cybercriminals abusing it for their own benefit and injecting users computers with adware and other PUPs

Personalized advertisements are delivered based on users’ preferences and needs. Tracking cookies[5] help to learn more about users by monitoring their browsing and search history. According to Ad Choices Privacy Policy, they may collect various information and even share it with third-party companies:

Personal information you knowingly choose to disclose to us such as your name, mailing address, and email address. You may provide this information when you make requests for information or assistance; Non-personal information including but not limited to browser type, IP address, operating system, the date and time of a visit, the pages visited on this Site, the time spent viewing the Site, and return visits to the Site; We may also collect aggregated information as you and others browse our Site.

AdChoices ads might offer useful and reliable products or services; however, they might be dangerous as well. Some ads may redirect you to malicious websites that are created for spreading malware, viruses or install tracking cookies and try to steal your information[6]. Keep in mind that Ad Choices doesn't take any responsibility for the trustworthiness of these sites. Here is a sentence from its Terms of Use:

ALL SUCH INFORMATION, PROGRAMS, PRODUCTS, SERVICES, AND MATERIALS ARE PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES AND CONDITIONS OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, TITLE, AND NON-INFRINGEMENT. CERTAIN AREAS OF THIS SITE INCLUDE CONTENT PROVIDED OR POSTED BY THIRD PARTIES. DAA (“DIGITAL ADVERTISING ALLIANCE”) IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS CONTENT OR THE STATEMENTS OR REPRESENTATIVES CONTAINED THEREIN.

AdChoices ads examplesAds are typically used to promote third-party sites and services

You can block these ads if so desired

As mentioned above, not much can be done about these ads, unless a powerful ad-blocking extension is installed on the web browser. Targeted ads, while a threat to online privacy, do have some benefits – women are less likely to see men's shaving products, for example. Besides, targeted ads help publishers to monetize and provide their services and content for free – if such ads are blocked, they do not have a way to monetize.

Having that said, you can block these ads as they work based on website cookies that are placed on your web browser. You either set cookies to be deleted each time you close down Google Chrome or another web browser. Additionally, you can visit the opt-out site that would allow you to get rid of interest-based advertisements.

Nonetheless, after you do so, keep in mind that you will continue seeing ads, but they might be much less relevant to you.

Ways to block excessive advertising

If you have been coming across suspicious ads while visiting your favorite websites (YouTube, Facebook, Google, etc.), you should think about what free application have you recently installed on your computer. It may be that you have been using the wrong way to install freeware and shareware on your computer what means that you have been allowing installation of commercial components (browser add-ons, extensions, plugins, toolbars, etc.) on it.

To get the ability to see all optional components that are hiding in the freeware, you should select a Custom or Advanced installation option. Also, make sure you uncheck all checkmarks that claim that you want to install browser add-ons, extensions, plugins, toolbars and similar components. However, if you have rushed software installation, now you have to solve this issue. Follow a simple removal guide presented at the end of the article. French-speaking users are advised to head to LesVirus.fr for instructions in their native language[7].

Speaking of the Ad Choices, some users have expressed complaints that they cannot get rid of these ads even when using AdBlock Plus. This software has a whitelist feature that allows certain ads to reach users. In case you came here to find a solution to “adblock not blocking adchoices” problem, you should do the following:

  1. Find the AdBlock product in your browser's Extensions/Add-ons list.
  2. Click on Options/Preferences next to the extension and deselect the Allow non-intrusive advertising option.

Frequently asked questions

Question. Surprisingly this morning I've found all my web browsers full of AdChoices ads. I assume I've run into some PC infection somehow and now need help since those ads are driving my crazy. Searching for help, I got nothing very helpful, except several YouTube videos on how to remove these ads, but none of them has helped. Could you please help?

Answer. Yes, apparently, if you have found ads labeled something like 'Ads by AdChoices' while browsing, then you have installed the related component on your machine. To remove Ad Choices, you should use a guide that is given down below. After doing so, we recommend scanning the computer with ReimageIntego because this way you will ensure your computer is totally safe and free of potentially unwanted programs, malware, file leftovers, and so on. Good luck!

Question. I also have these Ad Choices ads on my Firefox web browser. I updated everything possible, installed several Malware Removal programs, and they did not find any of these. What else can I do to get rid of this irritating app?

Answer. These advertisements are not related to a virus, so security tools will not help you with that. You can always employ ad-blocking software for that, although make sure it is legitimate first.

Question. Hello. I have one question related to online ads. Sometimes I get confused by them. Recently I've noticed that when browsing with Chrome, Opera, and Firefox some words are highlighted and bring up an ad when I hover the mouse over them. Most of them are marked as 'Ads by AdChoices'. Could you please tell me whether they indicate some infection or is that just normal?

Answer. Hello. The answer is simple – seeing these advertisements is certainly not a dangerous thing but if they have been bothering you then you should think about what commercial program have you recently installed on your computer. The easiest and most reliable way to get rid of it is to follow manual removal guidelines that are given below.

Question. I've recently downloaded Java and Flash Player updates. It seems that by doing so I've installed something suspicious because each of my web browsers has started generating tons of ads powered by AdChoices. What should I do to stop this from happening?

Answer. Technically, it is not a virus. It's rather an advertising tool, which displays different kinds of ads. In this case, we recommend you follow the manual removal guide that is given down below and fix your computer.

Question. I don't understand what's the matter with my computer or with me since ads constantly show up on my computer. This time, I'm dealing with AdChoices but cannot get rid of it no matter what I try. Please help!

Answer. It's interesting which actions did you take to remove these ads. Technically, this program is not a virus, so that you can use a guide below.

Eliminate unwanted ads

If you have been looking for AdChoices removal tool, you should understand that you need to find and uninstall related browser add-ons and extensions from each of your browsers. Carefully follow our step-by-step guide below. Make sure that you eliminate all suspicious components.

After doing so, we think that you should run a full system scan with updated anti-spyware to make sure that your computer is totally safe, and there are no programs that are considered unsafe. If you have difficulties in locating and eliminating these entries, you should launch automatic removal.

To remove ads automatically, you have to employ a professional malware removal program.

You may remove virus damage with a help of ReimageIntego. SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner and Malwarebytes are recommended to detect potentially unwanted programs and viruses with all their files and registry entries that are related to them.

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What to do if failed?
If you failed to fix virus damage using Reimage Intego, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage Intego has a free limited scanner. Reimage Intego offers more through scan when you purchase its full version. When free scanner detects issues, you can fix them using free manual repairs or you can decide to purchase the full version in order to fix them automatically.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Reimage, try running Malwarebytes.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Intego, try running Combo Cleaner.

Getting rid of AdChoices. Follow these steps

Uninstall from Windows

To remove these ads from your computer, you have to locate and eliminate adware and other suspicious programs. It's important to delete all questionable programs. After doing it, you should scan your computer with an anti-spyware program. Just to make sure your computer is clean and safe to use.

Instructions for Windows 10/8  machines:

  1. Enter Control Panel into Windows search box and hit Enter or click on the search result.
  2. Under Programs, select Uninstall a program. Uninstall from Windows 1
  3. From the list, find the entry of the suspicious program.
  4. Right-click on the application and select Uninstall.
  5. If User Account Control shows up, click Yes.
  6. Wait till uninstallation process is complete and click OK. Uninstall from Windows 2

If you are Windows 7/XP user, proceed with the following instructions:

  1. Click on Windows Start > Control Panel located on the right pane (if you are Windows XP user, click on Add/Remove Programs).
  2. In Control Panel, select Programs > Uninstall a program. Uninstall from Windows 7/XP
  3. Pick the unwanted application by clicking on it once.
  4. At the top, click Uninstall/Change.
  5. In the confirmation prompt, pick Yes.
  6. Click OK once the removal process is finished.

Delete from macOS

To remove ads completely, you have to find and uninstall all suspicious applications from your computer. When you finish, you should scan your PC with a strong anti-spyware program and make sure that you removed all suspicious components.

Remove items from Applications folder:

  1. From the menu bar, select Go > Applications.
  2. In the Applications folder, look for all related entries.
  3. Click on the app and drag it to Trash (or right-click and pick Move to Trash) Uninstall from Mac 1

To fully remove an unwanted app, you need to access Application Support, LaunchAgents, and LaunchDaemons folders and delete relevant files:

  1. Select Go > Go to Folder.
  2. Enter /Library/Application Support and click Go or press Enter.
  3. In the Application Support folder, look for any dubious entries and then delete them.
  4. Now enter /Library/LaunchAgents and /Library/LaunchDaemons folders the same way and terminate all the related .plist files. Uninstall from Mac 2

Remove from Microsoft Edge

Follow the instructions below and remove all questionable extensions from Microsoft Edge.

Delete unwanted extensions from MS Edge:

  1. Select Menu (three horizontal dots at the top-right of the browser window) and pick Extensions.
  2. From the list, pick the extension and click on the Gear icon.
  3. Click on Uninstall at the bottom. Remove extensions from Edge

Clear cookies and other browser data:

  1. Click on the Menu (three horizontal dots at the top-right of the browser window) and select Privacy & security.
  2. Under Clear browsing data, pick Choose what to clear.
  3. Select everything (apart from passwords, although you might want to include Media licenses as well, if applicable) and click on Clear. Clear Edge browsing data

Restore new tab and homepage settings:

  1. Click the menu icon and choose Settings.
  2. Then find On startup section.
  3. Click Disable if you found any suspicious domain.

Reset MS Edge if the above steps did not work:

  1. Press on Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.
  2. Click on More details arrow at the bottom of the window.
  3. Select Details tab.
  4. Now scroll down and locate every entry with Microsoft Edge name in it. Right-click on each of them and select End Task to stop MS Edge from running. Reset MS Edge

If this solution failed to help you, you need to use an advanced Edge reset method. Note that you need to backup your data before proceeding.

  1. Find the following folder on your computer: C:\\Users\\%username%\\AppData\\Local\\Packages\\Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe.
  2. Press Ctrl + A on your keyboard to select all folders.
  3. Right-click on them and pick Delete Advanced MS Edge reset 1
  4. Now right-click on the Start button and pick Windows PowerShell (Admin).
  5. When the new window opens, copy and paste the following command, and then press Enter:

    Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers -Name Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\\AppXManifest.xml” -Verbose Advanced MS Edge reset 2

Instructions for Chromium-based Edge

Delete extensions from MS Edge (Chromium):

  1. Open Edge and click select Settings > Extensions.
  2. Delete unwanted extensions by clicking Remove. Remove extensions from Chromium Edge

Clear cache and site data:

  1. Click on Menu and go to Settings.
  2. Select Privacy and services.
  3. Under Clear browsing data, pick Choose what to clear.
  4. Under Time range, pick All time.
  5. Select Clear now. Clear browser data from Chroum Edge

Reset Chromium-based MS Edge:

  1. Click on Menu and select Settings.
  2. On the left side, pick Reset settings.
  3. Select Restore settings to their default values.
  4. Confirm with Reset. Reset Chromium Edge

Remove from Mozilla Firefox (FF)

Look through the list of recently installed extensions. Some of them might be the reason why your browser was flooded with ads. Remove them all.

Remove dangerous extensions:

  1. Open Mozilla Firefox browser and click on the Menu (three horizontal lines at the top-right of the window).
  2. Select Add-ons.
  3. In here, select unwanted plugin and click Remove. Remove extensions from Firefox

Reset the homepage:

  1. Click three horizontal lines at the top right corner to open the menu.
  2. Choose Options.
  3. Under Home options, enter your preferred site that will open every time you newly open the Mozilla Firefox.

Clear cookies and site data:

  1. Click Menu and pick Options.
  2. Go to Privacy & Security section.
  3. Scroll down to locate Cookies and Site Data.
  4. Click on Clear Data…
  5. Select Cookies and Site Data, as well as Cached Web Content and press Clear. Clear cookies and site data from Firefox

Reset Mozilla Firefox

If clearing the browser as explained above did not help, reset Mozilla Firefox:

  1. Open Mozilla Firefox browser and click the Menu.
  2. Go to Help and then choose Troubleshooting Information. Reset Firefox 1
  3. Under Give Firefox a tune up section, click on Refresh Firefox…
  4. Once the pop-up shows up, confirm the action by pressing on Refresh Firefox. Reset Firefox 2

Remove from Google Chrome

Check the list of extensions and uninstall all questionable entries. Strange toolbars, plugins, and add-ons might be the reason why ads flooded Google Chrome.

Delete malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

  1. Open Google Chrome, click on the Menu (three vertical dots at the top-right corner) and select More tools > Extensions.
  2. In the newly opened window, you will see all the installed extensions. Uninstall all the suspicious plugins that might be related to the unwanted program by clicking Remove. Remove extensions from Chrome

Clear cache and web data from Chrome:

  1. Click on Menu and pick Settings.
  2. Under Privacy and security, select Clear browsing data.
  3. Select Browsing history, Cookies and other site data, as well as Cached images and files.
  4. Click Clear data. Clear cache and web data from Chrome

Change your homepage:

  1. Click menu and choose Settings.
  2. Look for a suspicious site in the On startup section.
  3. Click on Open a specific or set of pages and click on three dots to find the Remove option.

Reset Google Chrome:

If the previous methods did not help you, reset Google Chrome to eliminate all the unwanted components:

  1. Click on Menu and select Settings.
  2. In the Settings, scroll down and click Advanced.
  3. Scroll down and locate Reset and clean up section.
  4. Now click Restore settings to their original defaults.
  5. Confirm with Reset settings. Reset Chrome 2

Delete from Safari

Attentively follow the instructions and remove all questionable extensions from Safari. Some of them might be responsible for disturbing your browsing sessions.

Remove unwanted extensions from Safari:

  1. Click Safari > Preferences…
  2. In the new window, pick Extensions.
  3. Select the unwanted extension and select Uninstall. Remove extensions from Safari

Clear cookies and other website data from Safari:

  1. Click Safari > Clear History…
  2. From the drop-down menu under Clear, pick all history.
  3. Confirm with Clear History. Clear cookies and website data from Safari

Reset Safari if the above-mentioned steps did not help you:

  1. Click Safari > Preferences…
  2. Go to Advanced tab.
  3. Tick the Show Develop menu in menu bar.
  4. From the menu bar, click Develop, and then select Empty Caches. Reset Safari

After uninstalling this potentially unwanted program (PUP) and fixing each of your web browsers, we recommend you to scan your PC system with a reputable anti-spyware. This will help you to get rid of AdChoices registry traces and will also identify related parasites or possible malware infections on your computer. For that you can use our top-rated malware remover: ReimageIntego, SpyHunter 5Combo Cleaner or Malwarebytes.

How to prevent from getting system tools

Stream videos without limitations, no matter where you are

There are multiple parties that could find out almost anything about you by checking your online activity. While this is highly unlikely, advertisers and tech companies are constantly tracking you online. The first step to privacy should be a secure browser that focuses on tracker reduction to a minimum.

Even if you employ a secure browser, you will not be able to access websites that are restricted due to local government laws or other reasons. In other words, you may not be able to stream Disney+ or US-based Netflix in some countries. To bypass these restrictions, you can employ a powerful Private Internet Access VPN, which provides dedicated servers for torrenting and streaming, not slowing you down in the process.

Data backups are important – recover your lost files

Ransomware is one of the biggest threats to personal data. Once it is executed on a machine, it launches a sophisticated encryption algorithm that locks all your files, although it does not destroy them. The most common misconception is that anti-malware software can return files to their previous states. This is not true, however, and data remains locked after the malicious payload is deleted.

While regular data backups are the only secure method to recover your files after a ransomware attack, tools such as Data Recovery Pro can also be effective and restore at least some of your lost data.

About the author
Olivia Morelli
Olivia Morelli - Ransomware analyst

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References
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