YouTube Denies Slowing Down Mozilla Firefox

Alphabet’s YouTube has confirmed that certain web browser users are experiencing a five-second delay before a video page loads.

The Verge reported that users on Reddit and Hacker News had been complaining that YouTube seems to have inserted an intentional five-second delay before video pages would load in Mozilla’s Firefox and occasionally some other browsers.

However YouTube has told the Verge that while these users are right about the delay, the browser has nothing to do with it. Instead it is part of YouTube’s attempt to halt the use of ad blockers across all platforms.

YouTube confirmation

“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,” YouTube communications manager Christopher Lawton told the Verge via email.

Lawton added that disabling the ad blocker should resolve the issue, though users “may still experience a temporary delay in loading” until their browser has refreshed.

Lawton also reportedly said that users will keep seeing issues like this as YouTube’s ad-blocker detection methods improve.

According to the Verge, the issue was initially reported as targeting Firefox users, but users online have said they’re seeing the delay in Chrome and Edge as well.

Examinations of the code that is causing the delay contains no indication that YouTube checks what kind of browser is in use, the Verge reported.

Mozilla’s senior brand manager Damiano DeMonte wrote in an email to The Verge that “there’s no evidence that this is a Firefox-specific issue.”

A Reddit user called Rytoxz posted a video of what the YouTube delay looks like.

Advertising dependency

Companies such as YouTube, as well as Meta Platforms etc are of course highly dependent on advertising revenues in order to generate revenue.

The issue has long been a bug bear for tech firms and Google, despite it in 2018 enabling its Chrome browser with an ad blocker to prevent annoying and “intrusive” ads from certain publishers.

In 2015 research from the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB UK) found that nearly one in five British adults were using ad blocking software while using the web.

But since then the uptake of ad blocking software apparently slowed as consumers recognised the need for advertising to pay for their continued access to free online content.

The British government in 2016 even suggested it could be prepared to help content creators and publishers in their battle against ad blockers.

And Facebook has also previously warned that it would override ad blockers, but promised to give its users more control over what type of advertisements they see on the social network.

More recently Google has sought to clamp down on ad blocking more forcefully, mainly via its YouTube division.

Indeed, according to the Verge YouTube in June began disabling videos for some viewers using ad blockers, and then last month confirmed last month that it had “launched a global effort” to get users to either enable ads or subscribe to its $13.99 per month ad-free Premium service.

According to the Verge, Google last week detailed a big change to Chrome that undermines uBlock Origin, one of the more popular ad-blocking extensions.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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