YouTube Is Cracking Down on Third-party Apps That Block Ads

YouTube Is Cracking Down on Third-party Apps That Block Ads

YouTube is not having it with these ad blockers. Late last year, the company started going after these anti-advertising tools on desktop: Users with ad blockers enabled would see a pop-up warning them to disable the tool while watching YouTube. If they didn’t comply, the site would block videos from loading, and the ad blocker would effectively turn into a YouTube blocker.

While this rollout has put a stop to some ad blocking on YouTube, the policy rollout had little impact on mobile users: Third-party YouTube apps with built-in ad blockers were still able to watch videos without issue. At least, until now.

YouTube published a new help page on Monday outlining new rules for enforcement in third-party apps. Going forward, the company says users streaming through one of these apps may deal with buffering, or may encounter the error, “The following content is not available on this app,” when attempting to play a video. Additionally, YouTube says that it will only permit third-party apps to use its API when they follow its API Services Terms of Service, and when it discovers that an app breaks these rules, it will “take appropriate action to protect [its] platform, creators, and viewers.”

Look, I understand YouTube’s point of view here. The company has been running ads on its videos since 2007. (Hey, even a trillion-dollar company needs to make a living.) Ads make up the majority of YouTube’s revenue stream, so of course the company is going to be extra sensitive about those who try to circumvent that. But this is the internet, after all. Many of us choose to browse with ad blockers, since some websites abuse the system with obtrusive ads and trackers.

There’s probably not much third-party apps can do to fight this if they want to use YouTube’s API to offer a full YouTube client. If so, they’ll need to drop ad blocking from their list of features. That said, AdGuard says it is exempt here, since the company doesn’t use YouTube’s API. So, for the time being, you should be able to use the AdGuard app on iOS or Android to get around this change.

For most of the internet’s history, its users found ways around paying for things, one way or another. It seems the internet of the 2020s, however, is about getting those users to pay, or to contribute to how those companies are paid. YouTube is trying to prevent you from watching with ad blockers, just like Netflix and Disney won’t let you watch with someone else’s account.

YouTube’s official workaround for anyone who wants to watch videos without ads? Subscribe to Premium. Somehow, I don’t see that argument persuading many former ad blockers.

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