YouTube's Crackdown on Ad Blockers Is Making It Miserable to Use

YouTube recently doubled down on its neverending campaign against ad-blocking services.

But for ad blocker users who have lately experienced annoying glitches on the video-sharing platform, YouTube may not be the party to blame.

In an April announcement, YouTube vowed to strengthen its anti-adblocker "enforcement," arguing that they violate the platform's Terms of Service and ultimately hinder creators.

At the same time, the company has been greedily hiking up the prices of its Premium tier subscription service, charging as much as $14 a month for an ad-free experience — a considerable price many users have balked at.

Lately, it seems that YouTube is making good on some of its warnings, escalating its battle with its own loyal user base. According to folks on the r/YouTube subreddit, many ad-blocking YouTube users have recently seen a "not available" error code crop up on their browsers.

While that error code is definitely the result of YouTube's crackdown efforts, other video-related issues — think: missing audio, random timestamp skipping, or, as YouTube specifically warned, buffering problems — may be caused by third-party ad blockers, and YouTube maintains those particular problems aren't its fault.

The company told 9to5 Google some ad blockers may not be compatible with recent platform updates.

"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," YouTube told 9to5 Google. "An unrelated push to improve YouTube's performance and reliability may be resulting in suboptimal viewing experiences for ad blocker users."

To be clear, Google has used tactics like slow-loading webpages to deter ad-block users in the past.

But there's some recent history to support YouTube's latest white flag. Earlier this year, the company was widely blamed for similar adblock-related hitches. But as Ars Technica reported at the time, the consensus was ultimately that the issue was actually a bug in AdBlock Plus, one of the internet's most-used ad-blocking services. Other blockers, like uBlock Origin, were working just fine.

And according to AndroidCentral, the same thing appears to be true this time around as well. Brave, an ad-blocking web browser, wrote in an X-formerly-Twitter post this week that it hasn't seen any issues. The same seems to go for uBlock users.

In any case, YouTube's ad block war with its own users wages on — and rest assured, no matter the glitches or the error codes, some ad-hating netizens aren't backing down.

"At this point," said one r/YouTube commenter, "I'm just using my adblock out of spite."

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