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YouTube videos may no longer play if you use a third-party ad blocker

If you use a third-party ad blocker while on YouTube, you might not be able to view the video at all.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
YouTube's mobile app
Lance Whitney/ZDNET

YouTube is warning ad blocker users that they may encounter hiccups trying to view videos. On Monday, the company announced that it's strengthening its enforcement on third-party apps that violate its Terms of Service, specifically calling out ad-blocking apps.

Rather than tell you nicely not to use ad blockers, YouTube is stating that videos may simply not play with an ad blocker enabled. Specifically, you may bump into buffering issues when playing the video, or you might see an error message that "the following content is not available on this app," stopping you from watching the video at all.

YouTube says the company doesn't want you using ad blockers because such tools prevent video creators from being compensated based on the number of views. The company sees those ads as important and essential because they support creators financially.

Also: How to download YouTube videos for free, plus two other methods

"We want to emphasize that our terms don't allow third-party apps to turn off ads because that prevents the creator from being rewarded for viewership, and Ads on YouTube help support creators and let billions of people around the world use the streaming service," YouTube said in its announcement.

Of course, ads are also crucial to YouTube's bottom line. The more ads users watch, the more that advertisers are drawn to the platform, and the more money goes into YouTube's pockets. As the company acknowledges on its simply-named "How does YouTube make money?" webpage, the site's main source of revenue is advertising.

YouTube has always denounced ad blockers, but the company starting cracking down on them more severely last year. In June 2023, some users with ad blockers enabled started to see warnings that "video playback will be blocked unless YouTube is allowlisted or the ad blocker is disabled." In November 2023, YouTube launched a global effort to prevent users from sneaking past ads via external blockers.

YouTube's announcement on Monday marks its latest salvo against ad blockers and the people who use them. And now, the company is amping up its warnings. "We only allow third-party apps to use our API when they follow our API Services Terms of Service, and when we find an app that violates these terms, we will take appropriate action to protect our platform, creators, and viewers," YouTube added in its announcement.

Also: YouTube creators will now have to label certain AI-generated videos upon upload

So what can YouTubers do? If you use an ad blocker, one option is to add YouTube to the allow list so that the ads can still flow. If you're a diehard YouTube user, another option is to pay for YouTube Premium, which jettisons all advertising. A Premium subscription will run you $13.99⁠/⁠month after a two-month free trial.

If you're unhappy about YouTube cracking down on videos, keep in mind that this is the nature of the internet and other types of media. You generally have two choices: 1) Get something for free knowing that you'll be subjected to advertising, or 2) Pay for an ad-free experience.

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