In the fast-paced world of web browsing, loading YouTube has become as commonplace as drinking coffee in the morning. However, in recent hours, some users have experienced an annoying delay when accessing videos on YouTube in browsers other than Chrome, such as Firefox and Edge.
This incident sparked a heated debate in online forums and led to an important question: Is YouTube intentionally slowing down load times for users of these competing browsers?
If you don’t use Chrome, YouTube videos are taking a long time to load.
The controversy intensified when Reddit user u/vk6_ shared an explanatory video showing YouTube lagging excessively in Firefox. For about five seconds, the page appears blank, with background elements visible, but no accompanying content.
After this short time, the page will finally load as usual. This incident has raised suspicions that Google is knowingly implementing a strategy to discourage Firefox users.
By showing the Firefox user agent impersonating Chrome, the video shows YouTube loading normally. With no waiting and fast loading speed, this discovery reinforces the idea that the problem is somehow related to the browser used. At first glance, the evidence seems overwhelming: Google favors Chrome at the expense of other browsers.
The secret code appears on YouTube
The plot thickens when another user finds code in YouTube that shows the timeout feature in the script. This feature forces users to wait five seconds before the page is fully loaded.
While some say this could be part of the crackdown on ad blockers, others believe it could be a separate crackdown on Firefox. Surprisingly, some users have found that applying a filter to this code improves load times, casting doubt on the true nature of this phenomenon.
Strategy or technical error?
It is important to note that it is still too early to draw any definitive conclusions. The reasoning behind Google’s apparent preferences is unclear, and there are several theories at play.
A less noteworthy possibility is that this is a simple technical error. Unlike Blink, which is used by Chrome and Edge, and WebKit, which is used in Safari, Firefox uses the Gecko browser engine. Although knocking down the user agent does not change the browser engine, some suggest that this may be a Firefox-specific bug.
This debate comes at an interesting time, coinciding with the crackdown on ad blockers and Chrome’s removal of Manifest V2 extensions, affecting some ad blockers. In this context, Firefox and Edge have emerged as popular options for those looking for alternatives. The question remains: is this a deliberate strategy by Google to support its own browser, or simply a technical error that disproportionately affects Firefox users?
Overall, the visual evidence and the availability of the code on YouTube raise suspicions that Google may be implementing a strategy to deliberately reduce load times in rival browsers. We have to wait for a clear explanation from Google.