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If you are using the open source Firefox web browser to browse YouTube and watch its videos, then you might have noticed that there is an artificial delay that was added recently whenever you try to watch a video.

Don’t worry, it’s not an issue in your machine nor a slowdown in your Internet connection. Rather, it is a deliberate action done by Google itself specifically for Firefox users.

Various users on Reddit and other social media sites reported the issue, and they figured out that if they just change the user-agent to a Chrome or another Chromium-based browser, then the issue disappears although they are still using Firefox:

Video via user vk6_ on Reddit

Other users added that it only happens if you are signed-in to a Google account.

User agent is a text string stored in each browser that identifies the browser the user is currently using, its version and on what OS is it running, and reports it to websites so that they can enable/disable specific features according to it.

And Google is using that to cause a delay for Firefox users whenever they desire to watch YouTube videos. Apparently, it is doing that deliberately so that Firefox users feel this nuisance and switch over to Chrome and drop Firefox.

While it’s true that this could be related to an adblock extension the user is using, or maybe the built-in anti-tracker feature in Firefox itself, it is interesting that the issue only happens when using the Firefox user-agent: It doesn’t happen when using another browser even while using adblock extensions. So it seems like a targeted code towards Firefox users, and when called out, Google can just say: “Oops, we did a bug because of the engine difference”!

Firefox is the last major open source web browser that is still using its own browser engine, called Gecko, and did not switch to the Chromium-based and Google-backed Blink engine. Thus, it is the last castle that stands in front of total domination and control for Google on the web.

In the last 5 years, Firefox has lost around 70 million users due to various reasons, and apparently, Google is still trying hard to crush its rivals by introducing hidden bugs and issues like this one so that Firefox users are forced to make the switch to be able to browse in peace.

So long for Google’s former motto: “Don’t be evil”!

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