YouTube appeared to be continuing its war on ad blockers, with users complaining that the company was slowing down the site for users it catches running an ad blocker. 9to5Google spotted this Reddit thread filled with users seeing poor loading performance with ad blockers enabled.
A video at the top of the Reddit post shows what some users are seeing: A video with an ad blocker on can’t load quickly enough to keep up with the playback speed (which isn’t on normal; it’s maybe 2x) and has to pause at around 30 seconds. Turning off the ad blocker immediately improves loading performance, with the white line on YouTube’s progress bar showing significantly more buffering runway. Users report that the ad-block detection causes strange issues, like “lag” that makes full screen or comments not work or Chrome being unable to load other webpages while YouTube is open.
YouTube has used all sorts of tactics to get people to turn off ad blockers and subscribe to YouTube Premium. The company previously has been showing pop-up messages saying ad blockers violate YouTube terms of service. Earlier, the company was caught adding a five-second delay to the initial site load for ad blockers. The changes have kicked off a cat-and-mouse game between Google/YouTube and the ad blocker community.
But the slowdowns may be a big accident from ad blockers altering YouTube’s code: Adblock Plus has published a bug report covering “performance issues” introduced by version 3.22 and says things should be fixed in version 3.22.1. uBlock Origin developer Raymond Hill says the issue is limited to AdBlock Plus and its spinoffs and that blaming YouTube is “an incorrect diagnosis.”
Regardless of whether this is due to the updated Adblock code, it’s not the first time this has happened with YouTube. The straightforward thing would be to show more of these pop-ups and not send people on a wild goose chase after fake technical issues. Users in the thread certainly seem confused about why YouTube suddenly stopped working. The top comment says, “I thought there was something wrong with my internet connection,” while another high-ranking user’s comment was to plan to reinstall Chrome.