YouTube escalates battle against ad blockers, rolls out site slowdown (update)

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By Aprilia Reen

YouTube escalates battle against ad blockers, rolls out site slowdown (update)

A hot potato: YouTube’s ongoing war against those who use ad blockers has moved up a level. The company is now rolling out a punishment to more people that causes the entire site to slow when it detects ad-blocking software is being used, causing a “suboptimal viewing” experience.

Correction: It appears that the recent slowdown issues have only been affecting Adblock/Adblock Plus users, apparently due to a bug in the software. Other ad blockers such as uBlock Origin are not seeing similar problems on YouTube.

Original story is as follows:

It was back in November that YouTube’s previous ad-blocking methods moved from the experimental stage to a full-blown global effort to stop users from avoiding its slew of ads – or make them sign up to YouTube Premium.

YouTube’s initial efforts involved warning people via popups that using ad blockers violated its terms of service, forcing them to disable the software or go Premium to continue.

The campaign was apparently effective, with ad block uninstalls surging in the wake of YouTube’s ban. But the company wanted more ways of encouraging users to watch their ads or subscribe, so the platform started intentionally delaying video loading by about five seconds upon detecting an ad blocker. YouTube confirmed that this “suboptimal viewing” experience was the result of ad blocking detection.

Youtube started slowing video buffer with adblock enabled
byu/NightMean inyoutube

Following its introduction a couple of months ago, 9to5Google writes that several Reddit users have recently noticed YouTube being laggy and unresponsive, suggesting a wider rollout of the slowdown punishment is occurring. Videos buffer slowly, previews refuse to load correctly, and entering fullscreen or theater mode can’t be done without refreshing the site. It’s also noted that YouTube is throttling performance for Premium subscribers if they have an ad blocker enabled for another reason. The only way to fix the issues is to disable whichever ad blocker is being used.

The publication writes that YouTube is using an artificial timeout written within its code to mimic a laggy internet connection among ad blocker users.

There has been plenty of anger over YouTube’s actions. In addition to introducing unskippable 30-second ads to its TV app, the company increased the price of YouTube Premium last year. It now costs $13.99 a month to remove ads from YouTube and YouTube Music, or you can buy a yearly subscription for $139.99. There are also student plans and one for families that cover up to five people.


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