YouTube has started cracking down on ad blockers, and now, that includes slowing down the loading time for anyone who has an ad blocker installed on any browser.
Update 11/21: In an updated statement to 9to5Google, YouTube explains that ad blocker detection is the cause of “suboptimal viewing” on YouTube.com, including this new slower loading behavior.
Ads are a vital lifeline for our creators that helps them run and grow their businesses. That’s why the use of ad blockers violate YouTube’s Terms of Service. We’ve been urging users for some time to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium for an ad-free experience. In the past week, users using ad blockers may have experienced suboptimal viewing, which included delays in loading, regardless of the browser they are using. Users who have uninstalled their ad blockers may still experience a temporary delay in loading, and should try refreshing their browser.
While this was first noticed with Mozilla Firefox, as our coverage below goes over, YouTube says that its ad blocker detection does not target specific browsers and that this behavior may be seen on any browser with an ad blocker installed.
Our original coverage and YouTube’s previous statement follow:
Loading up YouTube.com is something many folks do on a daily basis, but recently, that process has been weirdly slow for some, specifically on Firefox.
Redditor u/vk6_ posted a video that shows YouTube loading up on Firefox with a significant delay. For a few seconds, the page is mostly blank, with background elements showing but no content to accompany it. After a few seconds, the page loads up as usual.
One might assume this is simply a connection issue, but the video shows pretty clearly that this is a choice by Google. When spoofing the user agent of Firefox to make it appear to be Chrome, YouTube loads up completely as normal. There’s no wait time, and the loading as a whole is drastically faster.
At a glance, it really seems like clear evidence that this is a choice on Google’s part, and there might be even more to it. Another user found code on YouTube.com that shows a “timeout” function in the script that forces users to wait five seconds before the page loads. However, some believe this may be related to the ad-blocker crackdown. The code itself doesn’t seem to point to Firefox in particular, but some users have found that using a filter for this code seems to fix the loading times.
Also notable, we tried this in the other direction. Spoofing Chrome to act as Firefox does not push this delay into effect.