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YouTube is reportedly slowing down videos for Firefox users (Update: Statement)

Some users are experiencing a five-second delay when loading YouTube videos on Firefox, but not on Chrome.

Published onNovember 20, 2023

samsung galaxy z fold 4 youtube interface
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
  • Users are reportedly seeing a five-second delay when loading YouTube videos in non-Chrome browsers, namely Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge, despite not using any extensions or ad-blockers.
  • The delay goes away when users switch their user agent to Chrome, indicating that the switch could be browser-related.
  • Not all users are experiencing the delay, which indicates that it could be account-related too.

Update, November 21, 2023 (02:13 AM ET): YouTube has provided a statement on the issue, clarifying that the issue is related to ad blockers and not with browsers:

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. Users who have ad blockers installed may experience suboptimal viewing, regardless of the browser they are using.

This does not completely explain how the five-second delay goes away when using Google Chrome. But it gives us good clarity on the behavior. Users who experience the delay are advised to either allow ads for YouTube or subscribe to YouTube Premium.

Original article, November 20, 2023 (09:19 AM ET): YouTube has been on a monetization push recently, as it began blocking ad-blockers and pushing users to buy YouTube Premium. That move makes sense in many ways, as the platform needs to make money to survive and compensate creators who depend on the platform for their living. But some other actions by YouTube make less sense. Users are now reporting that YouTube has begun slowing down its desktop website for some Firefox and Edge users, and we are perplexed.

Redditor vk6_ has shared a video showing a five-second delay when loading into a YouTube video on Mozilla Firefox. Upon manually changing the user agent on the browser to Chrome, the five-second delay no longer appears. The video has been reproduced below:

Other Redditors have echoed the claim that YouTube videos are slow to load on Firefox and Edge.

Redditor vk6_ further notes that this isn’t a bug on Firefox. The JavaScript code for the YouTube client on the desktop reportedly contains code that adds the artificial five-second delay. Others have chimed in, pointing out the exact place to find this piece of code.

We can confirm that the above-mentioned snippet of code exists. However, we cannot confirm if the code does indeed add a five-second delay after checking for the user’s browser of choice.

You can verify the existence of the code by inspecting this YouTube Javascript file and locating the following snippet of code with the find function (press Ctrl and F to open the finder):


For me, YouTube works equally well across Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. Other team members also could not replicate this delayed behavior across browsers.

However, multiple users have reported the same across Firefox and Edge. The users claim to have experienced the delay without any extensions enabled, indicating that the delay could be on a per-account basis. The delay also does not trigger just once; it is reportedly triggered every time YouTube links are opened in a new tab.

Certain discussions around the report indicate that the code could be a lazy implementation of an ad fallback if a user uses an ad blocker. The relevant code could possibly be ensuring that an ad is displayed for at least five seconds before the actual video begins showing. As mentioned, we could not confirm the functioning of the code snippet.

We’ve reached out to Google for comments. We’ll update this article once we hear back from them.

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