Maybe They Are Punishing People That Still Call It YouTube Red?
Slashdot linked to a story that has come up on Hacker News, 404 Media and others; the five second delay some Firefox users encounter when loading YouTube videos. As you would expect the vehemence of the comments makes it somewhat difficult to determine what exactly is happening, but YouTube is not denying that the delay does happen. Their claim is that this is part of their effort to combat adblockers, and has nothing to do with Firefox whatsoever. As you might expect that statement has been met with disbelief, with most referencing the recent antitrust lawsuits against Google as proof they are obviously just hurting the competition’s product.
Regardless of how you feel about adblockers, there is something concerning about these reports. Many users have tried using the user-agent switcher feature, which allows Firefox to impersonate other browsers, and find that the delay immediately disappears. This behaviour, along with the fact that not everyone experiences the delays suggests that YouTube may be attempting to detect what add-ins a Firefox user has installed and reacts differently depending on what is found. A user may not be blocking ads on YouTube, but the presence of installed adblockers is enough to trigger the delay.
That suggests Google may be digging around in your computer to a far deeper extent than is necessary to deliver videos over the internet. Whether that is true or not, when combined with the actual lawsuits against Alphabet it certainly doesn’t do anything good for the public perceptions of the company.
Firefox users across the internet say that they are encountering an "artificial" five-second load time when they try to watch YouTube videos that exists on Firefox, but not Chrome. Google, meanwhile, told 404 Media that this is all part of its larger effort against ad blockers, and that it doesn't have anything to do with Firefox at all. [...] Mozilla, which makes Firefox, told 404 Media that it does not believe this is a Firefox-specific issue. Enough people have posted about it, however, that it is clearly happening for some users and not others.