Users on Reddit and Hacker News are complaining that YouTube appears to have inserted an intentional five-second delay before video pages load in Mozilla’s Firefox and sometimes other browsers. YouTube tells The edge that these users are right about the delay, but the browser has nothing to do with it – it’s part of the company’s efforts to eliminate ad blockers across all platforms.
“Over the past week, users using ad blockers may have experienced suboptimal viewing, including loading delays, regardless of which browser they are using,” wrote Christopher Lawton, head of communication from YouTube, in an email. Lawton wrote that disabling the ad blocker should resolve the issue, although users “may still experience a temporary delay in loading” until their browser is refreshed.
Lawton also said that users will continue to experience issues like this as YouTube’s ad blocker detection methods improve.
The issue was initially reported as targeting Firefox users, but users online said they were also seeing lag in Chrome and Edge. Users on Reddit and Hacker News who looked at the code that appears to be causing the delay said they saw no indication that YouTube is checking what type of browser is being used. Damiano DeMonte, senior brand manager for Mozilla, wrote in an email to The edge that “there is no evidence that this is a Firefox-specific issue.”
The five-second delay doesn’t affect everyone. Some of us at The edge tried to recreate the issue, both on Mac and Windows machines. But whether or not you’re logged into YouTube, using an ad blocker or not, or in incognito mode or not, none of us saw the reported delay.
Google has made big strides in ad blocking lately, and much of that effort has been felt at YouTube, which began disabling videos for some viewers using ad blockers in June. YouTube confirmed last month that it had “launched a global effort” to get users to enable ads or subscribe to its $13.99 per month ad-free Premium service. Lawton called the ads “a vital lifeline for our creators.”
Last week, Google detailed a major change to Chrome that undermines uBlock Origin, one of the most popular ad blocking extensions. Independent developers have been in an arms race with big companies that want to serve ads for as long as there have been ads on the internet – and right now, Google appears to be serious about fighting back.