Using Ad-Blocker on YouTube? Videos May Start 5 Seconds Slower

YouTube is facing backlash after users discovered the platform intentionally slows down video loading speeds for those using ad-blockers on non-Chrome browsers like Firefox. YouTube videos took around 5 seconds longer to start playing on Firefox. But when users changed their browser identification settings to pretend to be Chrome, the delays disappeared.

Further investigation revealed YouTube had added code that deliberately introduces a loading lag of around 5 seconds to its website for certain desktop users. Tech savvy Reddit users tracked the delay code to the platform’s JavaScript files. The code seems to be part of YouTube’s recent efforts to counter ad-blocking software. Though the slowdowns don’t affect all users, the issue appears most prominent on Firefox and Microsoft Edge browsers.

While some speculate it may be an anti-ad-block move, others report still facing delays even with all extensions disabled. One theory is that it checks for Chrome before playing videos normally, functioning as a “tax” on other browsers. Videos play instantly if it detects Chrome. But on Firefox, Edge, or with ad-blockers active, it intentionally waits 5 seconds before loading a clip.

YouTube confirmed to reporters that the loading delays are linked to its measures against ad-blocking. A company spokesperson stated the platform needs ads to offer free access to videos while still paying creators. They said users who don’t wish to view ads can purchase a YouTube Premium subscription for an ad-free experience.

However, later updates revealed the slowdowns aren’t merely anti-competitive practices against other browsers. YouTube inflicts loading delays on all browsers detecting ad-blocking software, including Chrome itself. The company claims ad-blockers violate its terms of service. It hopes layering delays will pressure more viewers to disable ad-blockers or else push them to subscribe to ad-free Premium accounts.

The news follows prior allegations from 2018 claiming YouTube throttled performance on competing browsers like Firefox as part of efforts to dominate the browser market with Google Chrome. But this latest controversy takes the issue further by handicapping loading speeds based on ad-blocking activity across all browsers. While workarounds like masking one’s browser exist, the Move highlights the platform’s increasing hostility towards ad-block users.

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