YouTube and Advertisements

Several months ago, YouTube began "a global effort" to prevent users from blocking advertisements. This process included allowing users with an adblocker, once detected, a few videos, then a warning, and then outright prevention. There was an implicit suggestion that one could receive the desired ad-free service from a Premium subscription. Methods employed by YouTube to implement these blocks include embedding advertisements in the video itself, serving advertisements from the same domain as the video, or using browser fingerprinting to detect ad-blocking extensions.

Since then there have been a variety of methods employed by users to bypass the prevention of ad-blockers. For a while, use of uBlockOrigin was recommended as an ad-blocker. Fingerprinting could be circumvented by extensions like Canvas Fingerprint Defender. Others recommended disabling javascript on YouTube, using alternative browsers (e.g., Firefox), or even using Discord. A specific ad-block extension even exists for YouTube. As useful as these are they are likely to face further restrictions according to the Manifest3 development in Chrome.

From YouTube's perspective, ad-blockers reduce their income and, by extension, the income of content creators or providers. As much as this has a kernel of truth, the provision of advertisements on YouTube is so bad that even if an advertising algorithm manages to match well with a viewer's watch history, it is likely to put people off. Advertisements interspersed throughout a video, lengthy, unskippable advertisements and advertisements of questionable taste. There is, obviously, a significant difference between including skippable advertisements at the beginning and end of a video to what is being provided. For what it's worth, YouTube's adblocker detection is believed to break EU privacy laws, and the use of ad-blockers is actually recommended by the FBI to prevent fraud.

One excellent tool that works around these restrictions and provides a backup of the video for asynchronous viewing is yt-dlp with binaries available for Linux, MacOS, MS-Windows, and source code. As a general video downloader, it operates on thousands of sites, has extensive documentation for the enormous variety of options, and actively seeks improvements from outside contributors. When someone suggests a YouTube video to watch, one can simply download it from the command line, or even script it and run it in batch, in a manner convenient to the user. This is the way that audio and video content should be provided.

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