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YouTube is punishing ad-block users with longer load times

Users might start looking for new ways to bypass these digital roadblocks or, heaven forbid, actually sit through a few ads. 

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Image: KnowTechie

It looks like YouTube is stirring the pot again, and this time with a strategy that might just make ad-block users feel like they’re back in the dial-up era.

According to multiple sources, YouTube has been caught red-handed, intentionally dragging its feet when it comes to loading videos for users who are using ad-blocking tools.

Reports from Android Police, supplemented by user rants on Reddit and discussions on Hacker News, suggest that YouTube has been deliberately slowing down video load times for those with ad blockers enabled.

This isn’t their first rodeo either; it seems to be similar to a test they ran back in November. The move appears to be part of a broader campaign to discourage the use of ad blockers, which are a thorn in the side of YouTube’s ad revenue model.

While YouTube is pointing the finger at ad blockers for the slowdown, some are calling out the platform for what they perceive as a tactical move to nudge users away from ad-blocking extensions.

What’s really happening here?

Some speculate that this might even be a step towards pushing users to switch to browsers where YouTube’s parent company, Google, can exert more control, like Chrome.

And then there’s Raymond Hill, the creator of uBlock Origin, the open-sourced ad blocker. Hill suggests that the situation is more complex than initially thought.

He claims that deactivating ad blockers isn’t a silver bullet for the slowdown. Instead, the residual code from these extensions continues to affect page load times until the pages are completely refreshed or reopened.

It’s also not an issue exclusive to YouTube. Hill indicates that similar performance hitches could plague any dynamically updating websites.

For those installing uBlock Origin afresh, Hill advises patience while the filter lists update, after which webpages should function without hiccups.

So, what does YouTube have to say about all this?

They’ve confirmed that the ‘suboptimal experience’ is indeed a result of using ad blockers regardless of the browser, according to a statement provided back in early November 2023.

It seems like a clear message: disable ad blockers on YouTube or prepare for a less-than-stellar streaming experience.

It’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for them. Meanwhile, users might start looking for new ways to bypass these digital roadblocks or, heaven forbid, actually sit through a few ads. 

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Kevin is KnowTechie's founder and executive editor. With over 15 years of blogging experience in the tech industry, Kevin has transformed what was once a passion project into a full-blown tech news publication. Shoot him an email at kevin@knowtechie.com or find him on Mastodon or Post.

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