YouTube began waging war against ad blockers last year in an attempt to force users to either sign up for a YouTube Premium subscription or actually watch the ads they were being served. Most popular ad blockers have since been updated to bypass the crackdown, but YouTube is refusing to back down from the persistent ad blockers.
On Saturday, a trending post on Reddit showed a YouTube video starting to buffer whenever a user enabled the AdBlock extension. Hundreds of Redditors chimed in with similar complaints, while some said they figured it was an issue with their internet connection.
9to5Google tested the reports by visiting YouTube with and without an ad blocker enabled. They found that the site was indeed significantly slower when using an ad blocker. Not only did videos buffer more slowly, but previews didn’t load correctly and it was impossible to enter full screen or theater mode without refreshing the entire site.
According to 9to5Google, this is happening due to “an artificial timeout written within YouTube’s code to act as a laggy internet connection.” This has been present in the code for quite a while, but it appears that YouTube has been using it more liberally lately.
If you use an ad blocker extension like AdBlock Plus, uBlock Origin, or Ghostery and you’re having trouble with YouTube lately, you might want to try turning it off. YouTube would clearly prefer for everyone to pay $13.99 a month for YouTube Premium. Anyone who doesn’t will be fighting to avoid ads on YouTube for the foreseeable future.
UPDATE | 1/16: On Monday evening, a YouTube spokesperson reached out to let us know that the issue in question was being caused by the Adblock extension:
Recent reports of users experiencing loading delays on YouTube are unrelated to our ad blocker detection efforts. Our help center offers troubleshooting tips for users experiencing issues.
Gertrud Kolb, Chief Technology Officer at eyeo (the technology group that includes Adblock) also sent us an email to let us know that updates for Adblock and Adblock Plus addressing the slowdowns have been rolled out to users already:
AdBlock and Adblock Plus users have recently experienced a slow down in performance and a higher use of CPU when browsing on YouTube and other websites. Our engineering team fixed the problem and released ABP 3.22.1 and AB 5.17.1. The new versions are already available in the Opera and Edge extension stores and are currently in review in the Mozilla and Chrome extension stores. This means the problem is solved and AdBlock and Adblock Plus users should not experience issues that are related to the fixed bug, as soon as their extension is updated to the new version. Our team will closely monitor the situation and is ready to make further adjustments should it become necessary.