YouTube's ‘War’ on Adblockers Shows How Google Controls the Internet

Google's anti-ad scripts are breaking browsers and privacy plugins. It could get worse because Google controls the ad market, Chrome, and the extension store.
Screenshot via YouTube
"Ad blockers violate YouTube's Terms of Service. It looks like you may be using an ad blocker."
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The ever-escalating game of cat-and-mouse between YouTube, ad blockers, and users has reached a point where it can no longer be ignored, with YouTube making it impossible for some users with adblockers installed to watch videos, and adblock developers and their users constantly updating their tactics to continue blocking ads on YouTube. 

Over the last few months, people using ad blockers have been getting these popups from YouTube: 

"Ad blockers violate YouTube's Terms of Service. It looks like you may be using an ad blocker."
Screenshots: uBlock Origin via Reddit

YouTube has been rolling these out to different users at different times, so there hasn’t been a single day of ad-block apocalypse, instead, it’s been a constantly-evolving problem that is affecting millions of people at different times. This, as app developer Zhenyi Tan wrote in an excellent blog this week, has had the effect of confusing people, who have flooded Reddit, social media, and ad block review sites with differing information, because certain versions of certain ad blockers continue to work for some people, but not others. 

AdGuard cofounder Andrey Meshkov told 404 Media that what YouTube is doing is “technically, nothing too special compared to what we've seen in the past from others. The difference is the scale. YouTube is huge and video ads are especially annoying, this is what makes this case interesting.”  

“Generally speaking, they're employing a standard adblock wall tactic: try to detect an ad blocker and if it is detected, show a popup that prompts users to disable their ad blocker,” he added. “There are several versions of these pop-ups, their testing is clearly still in-progress. However, the share of affected users is growing so we can safely assume that eventually they're going to launch it for all YouTube users.”

YouTube’s ever-changing ad block detector scripts, which have become so sensitive as to detect certain pieces of privacy-protecting software that are not actually adblockers, are facing a privacy complaint with Ireland’s Data Protection Committee (DPC), The Register reported last week

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