Update 1 (November 20, 8:48 pm ET): Google has issued a statement about YouTube videos loading slower on non-Chrome browsers.
Update 2 (November 21, 11:13 pm ET): Google clarified that the YouTube slowdowns affect all browsers with ad blockers installed.
What you need to know
- Several Reddit posts have highlighted a five-second delay when loading YouTube videos on Firefox, which disappeared when the user agent was switched to Chrome, revealing a potential browser-specific issue.
- Discussions speculate that the added delay might be linked to ad display, possibly as a workaround for users employing ad blockers.
YouTube's desktop site is reportedly slowing down for some people on Mozilla Firefox, causing confusion among users.
A Reddit user (u/vk6_) posted a video revealing a five-second lag loading YouTube videos on Firefox (via 9to5Google). The same Redditor demonstrated a trick to dodge the endless wait. By temporarily switching to a Chrome disguise, they tricked YouTube into believing they weren't using Firefox, and the video loaded instantly.
Eagle-eyed users quickly pinpointed the culprit behind the slowdown—a code snippet lurking in YouTube's source code. This sneaky code seems to be part of YouTube's recent anti-ad-blocking measures.
However, Android Central's editors and staff writers tried to recreate the delay, but no dice. YouTube seemed to work perfectly fine on Firefox and other web browsers we're using. We've contacted Google for an explanation anyway, and we'll keep you posted once we hear back.
Several Firefox and Edge users reported experiencing the delay even with extensions disabled, suggesting it might be an account-specific issue and that it's not just affecting Mozilla's browser. The delay reportedly happens every time a user opens a YouTube link in a new tab.
Some people have speculated that this delay might be a clumsy attempt by YouTube to force ads on users who block them. The code in question might be trying to make sure that an ad plays for at least five seconds before the actual video starts.
This isn't the first rodeo for Firefox users butting heads with Google over what feels like some intentional slowdown. Back in 2018, former Mozilla executive Chris Peterson alleged that YouTube pages load five times slower on Firefox and Edge compared to Chrome.
A YouTube spokesperson has confirmed that the YouTube slowdowns on Firefox are related to its anti-ad-blocker efforts.
"To support a diverse ecosystem of creators globally and allow billions to access their favorite content on YouTube, we’ve launched an effort to urge viewers with ad blockers enabled to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium for an ad free experience," the company said in an email to Android Central. "Users who have ad blockers installed may experience suboptimal viewing, regardless of the browser they are using."
Google has made it clear that YouTube slowdowns aren't just targeting Firefox or Edge browsers. Turns out, if you're using an ad blocker with any browser, including Chrome, you may be experiencing delays in loading videos.
"Ads are a vital lifeline for our creators that helps them run and grow their businesses," a YouTube spokesperson told Android Central. "That's why the use of ad blockers violate YouTube’s Terms of Service."
YouTube's ad blocker radar doesn't discriminate between browsers, so if you've got an ad blocker on any of them, brace yourself for some video loading delays. Google is urging users to either tolerate the ads or cough up some cash for YouTube Premium if they want to enjoy an uninterrupted viewing experience.
Even after ditching your ad blocker, you might still encounter some sluggishness while loading YouTube videos. It's just a temporary hiccup—just give it a refresh, and things should get back to normal in no time.
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Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.