YouTube stops working for millions as war against ad blockers intensifies

A webcam is positioned in front of YouTube’s logo on 28 June, 2013 (AFP via Getty Images)
A webcam is positioned in front of YouTube’s logo on 28 June, 2013 (AFP via Getty Images)

YouTube has intensified its crackdown on ad blocking in a move that could impact millions of users worldwide.

Users on Monday reported “weird behaviour” while using YouTube with an ad blocker enabled, complaining that it caused videos to skip to the end or automatically mute when they play.

“There’s no sound whenever I use ad blocker on YouTube,” wrote Reddit user Freemanhl2 on the YouTube sub-Reddit. “You can adjust the volume slider for a second then it goes mute again.”

Another user wrote: “If I try to play a video with adblock running the video plays the first second with sound and then goes silent. The video itself plays normally but there’s no sound. I just spent a good 10 minutes thinking something was wrong with my headset or that something was wrong with my PC.”

Ad blocking tools like browser extensions have become a hugely popular way of filtering out and removing intrusive online adverts.

A recent survey by research firm Censuswide found that more than half of people in the US run ad blocking software, with younger people far more likely to use the technology. Separate figures published by Statista suggest the total number of adblock users around the world is close to 1 billion.

YouTube announced last month that it would be taking action against third-party apps that offer ways to block ads, stating in a community announcement that they violated YouTube’s terms of services.

“We want to emphasise that our terms don’t allow third-party apps to turn off ads because that prevents the creator from being rewarded for viewership, and Ads on YouTube help support creators and let billions of people around the world use the streaming services,” the announcement noted.

“Viewers who are using these third-party apps may experience buffering issues or see the error ‘The following content is not available on this app’ when trying to watch a video.”

The company added that users could have an entirely ad-free experience by signing up for YouTube Premium.

Some users also noted that there was still a legitimate way to bypass some ads on YouTube without using ad blocking technology or paying for YouTube Premium. By skipping to the end of a video and pressing the replay button, ads appear to not interrupt the video.

A spokesperson for YouTube told The Independent: “Ad blockers violate YouTube’s Terms of Service, and we’ve been urging users for some time to support their favorite creators and allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium for an ad-free experience.

“An unrelated push to improve YouTube’s performance and reliability may be resulting in suboptimal viewing experiences for ad blocker users.”