YouTube has started cracking down on ad-blockers and also appears to be purposefully slowing down its loading times for users on Mozilla’s Firefox browser.
Loading up YouTube.com is something many folks do on a daily basis, but recently, that process has been weirdly slow for some, and specifically on Firefox. As has now been documented, it looks like that’s an intentional choice on Google’s part.
Redditor u/vk6_ posted a video that shows YouTube loading up on Firefox with a significant delay. For a few seconds, the page is just mostly blank, with background elements showing but no content to accompany it. After that few seconds, the page loads up as usual.
One might assume this is simply a connection issue, but the video shows pretty clearly that this is a choice by Google. When spoofing the user agent of Firefox to make it appear to be Chrome, YouTube loads up completely as normal. There’s no wait time, and the loading as a whole is drastically faster.
At a glance, it really seems like clear evidence that this is a choice on Google’s part, and there might be even more to it. Another user found code on YouTube.com that shows a “timeout” function in the script that forces users to wait five seconds before the page loads. However, some believe this may be related to the ad-blocker crackdown. The code itself doesn’t seem to point to Firefox in particular, but some users have found that using a filter for this code seems to fix the loading times.
Also notable, we tried this in the other direction. Spoofing Chrome to act as Firefox does not push this delay into effect.
But, it’s hard to say anything for certain.
The reasoning for this is unclear, but it comes at a less-than-ironic time. Amid the crackdown on ad-blockers and Chrome’s removal of Manifest V2 extensions (which will break some ad-blockers), Firefox has been a spot for many folks to go to.
The other explanation could simply be a technical bug, but it’s hard to say what that might be. Firefox does run on the Gecko browser engine as opposed to the more widely-used Blink on Chrome, Edge, and others, and WebKit which is used on Safari, but spoofing the browser with an extension doesn’t change the engine being used which, again, suggests this has something specifically to do with Firefox. Our Kyle Bradshaw suggests that it could be as simple as the codebase being used for the Gecko engine having a delay for testing that mistakenly made it to production. The fact that this doesn’t happen when spoofing Chrome to act as Firefox, too, supports the idea that this is more of a technical issue.
In any case, it’s a very frustrating issue, and pretty wild to see.
Google has, so far, not acknowledged the issue.
More on YouTube:
Update: Post has been updated to reflect testing where spoofing Chrome to act as Firefox does not show the same delay.
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