YouTube appears to be making load times for its videos slightly more sluggish on the Firefox browser by Mozilla. This comes as YouTube parent company Google is pushing back against ad blockers. Many users recently have noticed some sluggishness when visiting YouTube, but the problem has apparently been particularly pronounced for users of the Firefox browser.
The YouTube problem on Firefox was highlighted by redditor u/vk6_, whose video demonstrated a delay when loading a YouTube video with the popular browser. In the video, the page is slow to load, with content appearing a few seconds after the rest of the elements.
While any number of issues could cause this glitch, from internet connection problems to an overloaded computer with poor RAM, the video seems to demonstrate that the problem has to do, not with hardware but with the browser being used to load the page.
In order to show YouTube loading as it would on another browser, the user employs a spoofing agent to make Firefox look like Chrome to YouTube. When this is done, the YouTube page loads normally and quickly, with no pause and no lag. This seems to suggest that Google is showing favoritism or is at least intentionally slowing down YouTube on Firefox.
The glitch could be due to a “timeout” function that was found in the YouTube website code by another user on Reddit, a feature that forces a five-second wait before loading a page. Others, though, think the problem stems from Google’s backlash against ad blockers. While Firefox doesn’t seem particularly affected by the code that was found, some users have had success filtering out this code in order to regain a normal load time speed on the video streaming site.
Also of note is the fact that using the same spoofing technique while using Chrome to trick YouTube into thinking the browser is Firefox does not cause the five-second glitch to occur, according to tests conducted by 9to5Google. This raises questions as to exactly what factors are causing the lag to take place, though it’s difficult to pin anything down with specificity. For its part, Google says that users might experience “suboptimal viewing” if they have ad blockers installed, no matter what browser they use to access YouTube.
Predictably, Google suggests users try YouTube Premium or disable ad blockers on Firefox or other browsers. Whether or not there is an issue from one browser to another, it is detectable from the video that the Redditor who posted it has an ad blocker installed on their browser. 9to5Google’s test of spoofing Chrome as Firefox was done on a browser that did not have an ad blocker installed, which supports the hypothesis that, as Google says, the ad blocker and not the browser is to blame.
Whether the problem is based on a disconnect between YouTube and Firefox, a direct targeting of Firefox by Google, or the overall campaign at Google against ad blockers is not entirely clear, however, user reports and tests are still coming in. Whatever the issue, which could be a simple technical glitch unrelated to these other factors, the problem at hand is only a small one and not likely to cause a great deal of frustration for most users.