YouTube begins fighting ad blockers by slowing down load times

Daniel Sims

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Staff
A hot potato: YouTube seems to have adopted a new strategy its cat-and-mouse game against ad blockers. What appeared to be a glitch is now revealed as the company's latest method to degrade the experience for users who either avoid watching ads or do not subscribe to YouTube's premium plan.

YouTube has confirmed that the platform is intentionally delaying video loading when it detects ad blockers. This policy change may be a reaction to the ad blockers that recently started bypassing YouTube's initial measures against them.

Earlier this week, Reddit users reported experiencing delays of about five seconds when loading YouTube videos on Firefox and Edge, but not on Google's own Chrome browser. Investigations suggest that these interruptions happen whenever a video is opened in a new tab or window. Eventually, JavaScript code intended to cause these delays was identified on the site.

YouTube confirmed in a statement that it implemented these pauses to persuade ad-block users to either disable ad blocking for YouTube, uninstall their ad blockers, or subscribe to YouTube Premium. The company also cautioned that ad blockers could worsen the viewing experience across all browsers.

This new approach follows a more severe tactic rolled out globally a few weeks earlier, which either temporarily or permanently halted video playback for users with ad blockers. Often, viewers encountered a message urging them to disable ad blocking for YouTube, though the message eventually allowed them to continue watching. Some users received warnings that the service would completely block their access after watching three more videos.

YouTube's strategy has reportedly achieved some short-term success. Ad-block providers have noted a significant increase in uninstallations, with surveys citing YouTube's new policy as the main cause. Meanwhile, extension developers keep devising ways to circumvent the service's hard lock. The video delays might represent the latest chapter in an ongoing battle between YouTube and ad blockers, or they could be a less aggressive means of coaxing users towards viewing ads and subscribing.

Users of ad blockers are likely frustrated by the unavoidable 30-second ads that frequently appear on non-desktop platforms. Moreover, YouTube Premium received a price hike earlier this year, now charging $13.99 a month or $139.99 a year for ad-free viewing and access to original content. In some instances, even the FBI recommends installing ad blockers as a defense against malicious advertising.

YouTube might gain the upper hand in this conflict next year, at least on Chrome. Google has announced a new schedule for Chrome's highly anticipated and controversial transition to Manifest V3. This change, which is set to significantly alter how the browser manages extensions and restrict ad blockers, is slated for June 2024 after a previous postponement.

Editor's note: It's worth mentioning that when you block ads on all sites, that also means TechSpot sees no revenue from your visits. See: Why Ad Blocking Matters to TechSpot

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Well, on the plus side the Mozilla foundation must be over the moon that Google and Youtube still on this foolish war: it's likely not going to make a huge dent for them and henceforth wont deter them yet given their tiny marketshare, just about any users jumping ship to Firefox is a win for them since it at least means a bit more users and potentially more donations and such.

Because even if Google won't suffer too much from insisting now it's the time to intentionally antagonize their customer base, it still long term will not work because the fundamental problem is nobody likes ads: There's never been even 5 minutes before advertisers push things too far too soon and become at the very least annoying, but more realistically do a terrible job of vetting their own and basically become a security liability with ads becoming outright malware far too often.

That's the reason why nobody has successfully defeated ad blockers for decades and even Google themselves will not. Hell not even just for youtube they will not succeed.
 
Well, on the plus side the Mozilla foundation must be over the moon that Google and Youtube still on this foolish war: it's likely not going to make a huge dent for them and henceforth wont deter them yet given their tiny marketshare, just about any users jumping ship to Firefox is a win for them since it at least means a bit more users and potentially more donations and such.

Because even if Google won't suffer too much from insisting now it's the time to intentionally antagonize their customer base, it still long term will not work because the fundamental problem is nobody likes ads: There's never been even 5 minutes before advertisers push things too far too soon and become at the very least annoying, but more realistically do a terrible job of vetting their own and basically become a security liability with ads becoming outright malware far too often.

That's the reason why nobody has successfully defeated ad blockers for decades and even Google themselves will not. Hell not even just for youtube they will not succeed.
Google is likely to get a large fine from the EU for a number of reasons due to their adblocker/youtube nonsense. Now that they're gimping other browsers and installing maleware on people's computers to identify if they're using adblockers they are sure to get something pushed against them by the EU
 
The Ad Wars turned bloody when advertisers crossed the content line, putting ads in the center of webpages, when before they were on the sides of a page, where nobody cared if they were there, unless it was Flash content slowing your machine to a craw, specially in the netbook era.

Before that time, neither I nor my friends cared about advertisement. Nobody cared, because it wasn't in the way. But advertisers got greedy, and started to cross the line. Now content creators got caught in the crossfire, because advertisers turned side ads in a unsustainable way to monetize a website. Now is center page or else.

In the end, nobody wins. The more advertisers piss me off, the more machines I install ad-blockers, out of spite. That in turn hurts content creators, because they receive flack from my enemies. What I can say is, the piece offer has to come from the other side. I'm not the one backing down, I can tell you that. If I'm the product, they better treat me with some respect.
 
Why would people uninstall adblockers just because of Youtube? Even if they capitulate instead of finding workarounds, all they have to do is disable adblocking for that one specific site that's causing problems... at least that's how it works in uBO, haven't used any other ad blocker for years. Literally all you have to do is click on the extension icon and then click on the big power button, to disable blocking for the site you're visiting.

If people really are this dumb, one more reason I really regret how the internet stopped being a niche thing for nerds and losers.
 
They do not "fight" ad blockers by slowing them down. This is more likely a result of an adblock detection technology, that waits up to 5 seconds to the browser requesting an ad, and if it doesn't then it times out and proceeds to load the page but marking the client as an ad blocker. If there's no ad blocker, the detector does not have to wait for the timeout, because it can see loading the ads after a fraction of a second.

Slowing down the page loads is not a goal, it merely happens as the result of the detection. Just my two cents.
 
The Ad Wars turned bloody when advertisers crossed the content line, putting ads in the center of webpages, when before they were on the sides of a page, where nobody cared if they were there, unless it was Flash content slowing your machine to a craw, specially in the netbook era.
Yeah, so, that was 15 years ago. Not relevant to today at all.

Before that time, neither I nor my friends cared about advertisement. Nobody cared, because it wasn't in the way. But advertisers got greedy, and started to cross the line.
Or they just simply had to show larger and more ads, because screens got bigger, and because ads lost their value (partially because ad blindness). Or because serving Full HD and 4K video content takes up 1000 or million times more bandwidth than serving up a simple web page. Even simple web pages offer now tons more services than they did, with more graphics, that need to be licenced, generating more cost that need to be covered. You don't need "greed" to explain why we have now bigger or more ads than we had before.

In the end, nobody wins. The more advertisers piss me off, the more machines I install ad-blockers, out of spite.
And that's exactly why nobody wins. You're just escalating the problem, because now web pages have to show more ads to the remaining user base who is still not blocking, to cover their costs. So, they'll also start blocking, which forces the sites to serve even more to the remaining base. And when everybody is blocking and or they just reach the tipping point, they'll just close down their services, either by ceasing operation, or by putting it behind a paywall.

So, now you'll have to pay let's say $5 every month for every page you want use. And for what? Just because you couldn't take there being a few banner ads on the page alongside the content?

Ad blocking is not a solution, but the opposite of that.

That in turn hurts content creators, because they receive flack from my enemies. What I can say is, the piece offer has to come from the other side. I'm not the one backing down, I can tell you that.
So, even you're admitting that you're hurting the innocent, yet you keep doing it, and double down on not stopping it, despite the realization that you're not only hurting decent people, but will not achieve anything through your actions? How dumb is that?

If I'm the product, they better treat me with some respect.
You're only a the product or a customer if you don't block ads. If you do block ads, then you're just a thief, that has no saying in anything. If you had a shop, how would you treat thives, and would you really want to cater to them by any means, or just want to kick them out of your shop? Exactly. The same thing applies to adblocker vs websites - by blocking their ads you take any incentive they might had to consider, let alone serve also your priorities. Just another perfect point against ad blocking.


In reality if you want less/better ads, what you have to do is completely uninstall your ad blocker, and visit and use those sites that show/less ads instead of those that show more/worse ads. This way you'll ensure that the better sites are thriving, because they can generate a tons of ad revenue, and the worse ones will get out of business, because they will have no ad revenue.

However, if you keep blocking ads, the only you'll achieve is that it will only the large corporation or those who screw you over by other means that remain on the web, and that you'll have to pay for every single site you're using. Somehow I think you won't like that either, and actually even less than having to put up with a few ads here and there.
 
Ad blocking is not a solution, but the opposite of that.
I wouldn't mind letting ads through if there wasn't a chance that my system would be infected with God knows what from here to next Tuesday. But no, they aren't going to clean up their acts so I will continue to use an adblocker and I don't give a f**k. Better to have a clean system and not have God knows what infect it than to let even one stupid ad through.

When even the FBI advises people to use an ad blocker, you know things are getting bad when it comes to malvertisements.
 
I don't mind the concept of ads online, I mind the tracking behind the ads.

cross site cookies, profiling, building a digital identity token with all they can gather on me, to get that targeted ad that pays the most.

if it was just an ad based on my IP location, or other very basic information on me and my device, sure.

I recently looked at what I actually accept here on techspot when I agree to cookies.
183 advertisement partners and 85 partners for understanding users through their use across sites.

yeah, I reject the cookies now when prompted.

my on and off use of techspot as a news site has to go back almost 8-10 years now.
 
Web sites should offer a tracking-free option for ads for people who object to tracking. You can make more money from tracking ads, but not if the user is blocking them and would not block basic non-tracking ads. But honestly, most content on Youtube isn't worth 30 seconds of my time to watch a commercial. I would rather just not use Youtube in most cases.
 
[...]
If people really are this dumb, one more reason I really regret how the internet stopped being a niche thing for nerds and losers.

People do lack common sense and the ability to do research and come to their own conclusions.

At the very least, this shows that their user base lacks the ability to do critical thinking and shows they're able to be controlled.
 
I am tired of adblocks working at one time and then not working. These days I am using sound kill-switch button on my laptop's keyboard - it's good enough, because sound is the most annoying part.
 
YouTube can do what ever it likes, but the users will decide what to do with YouTube.

The Ad-blocker plugins were created for users that they want to get protected by the malicious ads which are everywhere in the internet and it is not used only for the Youtube ads.

Without Ad-block plugins internet would be useless to a regular user, take for example your parents and how many times in the past got spammed and scammed because they didn't have an ad-blocker.

Just think for a minute how useless your e-mail would be without a SPAM-Filter.

So if YouTube will block Ad-block plugins in the future (that is the route that they heading, my opinion), then so be it, one website will no longer be visited from the majority of users.

One site less... against the millions.

And guess what, another website will arise with video services. This a free market, correct?


---
And a small reminder, internet is not free, it was never free, as you have to pay your internet provider, your electricity, and you have to keep buying a new computer device, once and a while...
 
Ads every few minutes is why I will never relent. I am not against ads, but I will not tolerate the sheer amount of crap shown on YT especially on Android where I can't block the ads. I often won't watch YT on my smart TV and instead just watch it on the computer. Even worse is how pathetic the timing of the ad is is, often mid sentence. They could at least wait for a natural pause in the video. If they were say every 15 minutes max I would tolerate a 60s ad break.

BTW I've not experienced any delays in loading or warnings for at least 3 weeks now using Firefox or Edge.
 
I wouldn't mind letting ads through if there wasn't a chance that my system would be infected with God knows what from here to next Tuesday.
Ads have no more ways or capabilities to infect your system, than any webpage, or the very webpage they're shown on. Actually, the chance of being infected by an ad is a lot lower, because ad servers and ad networks are managed by well-paid professionals, while most web sites are run by clueless non-professionals, who can barely manage to install WordPress let alone secure it and lock it down.
 
Yeah, so, that was 15 years ago. Not relevant to today at all.

Or they just simply had to show larger and more ads, because screens got bigger, and because ads lost their value (partially because ad blindness). Or because serving Full HD and 4K video content takes up 1000 or million times more bandwidth than serving up a simple web page. Even simple web pages offer now tons more services than they did, with more graphics, that need to be licenced, generating more cost that need to be covered. You don't need "greed" to explain why we have now bigger or more ads than we had before.

And that's exactly why nobody wins. You're just escalating the problem, because now web pages have to show more ads to the remaining user base who is still not blocking, to cover their costs. So, they'll also start blocking, which forces the sites to serve even more to the remaining base. And when everybody is blocking and or they just reach the tipping point, they'll just close down their services, either by ceasing operation, or by putting it behind a paywall.

So, now you'll have to pay let's say $5 every month for every page you want use. And for what? Just because you couldn't take there being a few banner ads on the page alongside the content?

Ad blocking is not a solution, but the opposite of that.


So, even you're admitting that you're hurting the innocent, yet you keep doing it, and double down on not stopping it, despite the realization that you're not only hurting decent people, but will not achieve anything through your actions? How dumb is that?


You're only a the product or a customer if you don't block ads. If you do block ads, then you're just a thief, that has no saying in anything. If you had a shop, how would you treat thives, and would you really want to cater to them by any means, or just want to kick them out of your shop? Exactly. The same thing applies to adblocker vs websites - by blocking their ads you take any incentive they might had to consider, let alone serve also your priorities. Just another perfect point against ad blocking.


In reality if you want less/better ads, what you have to do is completely uninstall your ad blocker, and visit and use those sites that show/less ads instead of those that show more/worse ads. This way you'll ensure that the better sites are thriving, because they can generate a tons of ad revenue, and the worse ones will get out of business, because they will have no ad revenue.

However, if you keep blocking ads, the only you'll achieve is that it will only the large corporation or those who screw you over by other means that remain on the web, and that you'll have to pay for every single site you're using. Somehow I think you won't like that either, and actually even less than having to put up with a few ads here and there.

Basically, what are you saying is: surrender, because ads allows us to use web without paying.

But you are forgetting one thing, one you say it did not matter: we already had that, and it did not work. Instead we had thousands of ads, popups and all other crap, and malware spreading like wildfire back in XP era.

AD blockers cames as saviors for that kind of crap... And now you want to convince somebody that we need to believe that AD providers will be nice this time?

Crazy...

If some content is not free, then ask people to pay for it. If people do not want to pay that content and you have to rely on Ads... tough luck. That is free market for you.
 
Ads have no more ways or capabilities to infect your system, than any webpage, or the very webpage they're shown on. Actually, the chance of being infected by an ad is a lot lower, because ad servers and ad networks are managed by well-paid professionals, while most web sites are run by clueless non-professionals, who can barely manage to install WordPress let alone secure it and lock it down.

While malware does not seem to be served on major ad sites, falsive paid advertisement still does.

I can name quite a few examples, in where paid advertising led to online scams such as fake existing webshops, fake downloads or simply fake in whatever category you can think of.

They do not check at all which ads are bought or inserted, Google, Meta, none of them. It's all automated and zero human intervention is pretty much it.

Because of that the financial damage caused on a yearly basis alone per country is insanely high. And because of that people should use adblockers in the first place for not just themselfs but people who do not know how the internet works.

Google is making so much money on tracking, harvesting / collecting data, they can easily fund youtube for decades to come to be honest. But it's a company driven by investors, and people are paid to be more creative in finding ways to extract more money out of it.

 
Basically, what are you saying is: surrender, because ads allows us to use web without paying.
No. Basically what I'm doing is rebutting the typical misconceptions around ad blocking, and explaining why it's not a solution, but an escalation of the problem.

If you can argue with any factual and logical statement I made, then do it. If you can't, and only can beat a straw man or express that you still want to block ads, then you're essentialy declaring that even you know you have no point.
 
While malware does not seem to be served on major ad sites, falsive paid advertisement still does.
Ad blockers don't block ads based on their "falsivness", and they don't and can't even detect most "falsive" advertisements (like false reviews or ponzi schemes). Because of that the problem of "falsive" advertisement has nothing to do with ad blocking, and ad blocking is not something that can possibly lead to the former getting less.

Actually, the most prevalent ad blocking, as we know today becomes, the more advertisers and websites are forced to disguise their ads as non-ads, and therefore - by definition - the more "falsive" ads there will be.

So, again, this is another problem that will only get escalated by the current forms of ad blocking, not solved.

I can name quite a few examples, in where paid advertising led to online scams such as fake existing webshops, fake downloads or simply fake in whatever category you can think of.
Again, this is not an ad problem, and any web page can link to "lead" to online scams, fake webshops, etc. These are not blocked by ad blockers, and it's not even their intent or purpose to block (only) these.

They do not check at all which ads are bought or inserted, Google, Meta, none of them. It's all automated and zero human intervention is pretty much it.
As above: you don't have to buy ads for that. Scam pages can be found all over the web and even rank well within Google Search. And ad blockers don't block these, therefore making them irrelevant when discussing ad blocking.

Because of that the financial damage caused on a yearly basis alone per country is insanely high. And because of that people should use adblockers in the first place for not just themselfs but people who do not know how the internet works.
Wrong. I explained above why. Ie. because ad blockers won't protect them, not even a tiny bit from such scams. Ad blockers, however, do hurt and drive out of business completely legal and honest small publishers, who did nothing wrong, and are forcing them to look for other means to sustain their businesses, including putting all their content and services behind paywalls.

Google is making so much money on tracking, harvesting / collecting data, they can easily fund youtube for decades to come to be honest. But it's a company driven by investors, and people are paid to be more creative in finding ways to extract more money out of it.
Again, Google can track you if they want - through Chrome, Gmail, their websites, etc. - in the complete absence of ads. Ads are not Google's means to track you, but to make money on you once they've already tracked or profiled you, at best. And ad blockers will not be able to prevent Google from tracking you.
 
No. Basically what I'm doing is rebutting the typical misconceptions around ad blocking, and explaining why it's not a solution, but an escalation of the problem.

If you can argue with any factual and logical statement I made, then do it. If you can't, and only can beat a straw man or express that you still want to block ads, then you're essentialy declaring that even you know you have no point.
You are rebutting the misconceptions only from your point of view.

You are completely ignoring relevant concerns from the other side - simple fact that no ad blocker quickly turns into malware-popup fest.

We have been there, done that several times, so I do not know how we can ignore such facts?

I understand that middle ground is preferred, but unless we actually reach consensus how that should look like, ad-blockers are necessary.

Yeah, so, that was 15 years ago. Not relevant to today at all.

Why is it irrelevant? You can turn off the ad blocker today and see the very same behaviour today.

Or they just simply had to show larger and more ads, because screens got bigger, and because ads lost their value (partially because ad blindness). Or because serving Full HD and 4K video content takes up 1000 or million times more bandwidth than serving up a simple web page. Even simple web pages offer now tons more services than they did, with more graphics, that need to be licenced, generating more cost that need to be covered. You don't need "greed" to explain why we have now bigger or more ads than we had before.
So, basically, wrong business model, no? If you can not cover your expenses or your business model is to rely on ads, then you are not doing good business. Customer will ran away sooner or later, just like with TV showing shitty TV shows with tono f ads in between - customers left, moved to greener pastures. Sorry, that is free market, no?

And that's exactly why nobody wins. You're just escalating the problem, because now web pages have to show more ads to the remaining user base who is still not blocking, to cover their costs. So, they'll also start blocking, which forces the sites to serve even more to the remaining base. And when everybody is blocking and or they just reach the tipping point, they'll just close down their services, either by ceasing operation, or by putting it behind a paywall.

So, now you'll have to pay let's say $5 every month for every page you want use. And for what? Just because you couldn't take there being a few banner ads on the page alongside the content?

Ad blocking is not a solution, but the opposite of that.
Yes, let them put it behind paywall. If their content is worth that $5, users will pay. If it is not, damn it...

So, even you're admitting that you're hurting the innocent, yet you keep doing it, and double down on not stopping it, despite the realization that you're not only hurting decent people, but will not achieve anything through your actions? How dumb is that?

Butthurt too much?

You're only a the product or a customer if you don't block ads. If you do block ads, then you're just a thief, that has no saying in anything. If you had a shop, how would you treat thives, and would you really want to cater to them by any means, or just want to kick them out of your shop? Exactly. The same thing applies to adblocker vs websites - by blocking their ads you take any incentive they might had to consider, let alone serve also your priorities. Just another perfect point against ad blocking.
OK. From the point of view of website owner, this makes sense. But that can be done in meaningful way - with using ads properly, not tracking everybody and without shoving content in customer face.
In such cases, I think it is fair to disable Ad Blocker for such websites (and I do that, honestly), but there must be some level of understanding between "customer" and "website" to reach that consensus.

In reality if you want less/better ads, what you have to do is completely uninstall your ad blocker, and visit and use those sites that show/less ads instead of those that show more/worse ads. This way you'll ensure that the better sites are thriving, because they can generate a tons of ad revenue, and the worse ones will get out of business, because they will have no ad revenue.

However, if you keep blocking ads, the only you'll achieve is that it will only the large corporation or those who screw you over by other means that remain on the web, and that you'll have to pay for every single site you're using. Somehow I think you won't like that either, and actually even less than having to put up with a few ads here and there.

How about I keep my ad blocker and if site is good enough, I turn it off for them? Why control has to be in website hands? Customer is always right, remember?
 
This is why I use Samsung Internet Browser for everything but work. I just use Chrome to login to work computers only. Pretty much stopped watching youtube. Don't mind ads just not at the rate that Google is getting greedy about. If they want to be reasonsable about this make the ads play before the video but dont have 3 or 4 ads interupting right in the middle of an intense video as that just destroys the viewing experience.
 
This is why I use Samsung Internet Browser for everything but work. I just use Chrome to login to work computers only. Pretty much stopped watching youtube. Don't mind ads just not at the rate that Google is getting greedy about. If they want to be reasonsable about this make the ads play before the video but dont have 3 or 4 ads interupting right in the middle of an intense video as that just destroys the viewing experience.
It is their platform, they can have it any way that they want.

We can ignore it, thankfully :)

Youtube is not necessity, so... as soon as number of viewers starts going down, Google will become reasonable.
 
You are rebutting the misconceptions only from your point of view.
Yeah, no such thing. Something is either getting rebutted or not. And none of what I wrote is only from my personal perspective. I actually went out my way to explain things from multiple perspectives, including both the website owners' and also that of the users'.

You are completely ignoring relevant concerns from the other side - simple fact that no ad blocker quickly turns into malware-popup fest.
Yeah, no. I've just explained in my previous post why that's also a completely false information.

We have been there, done that several times, so I do not know how we can ignore such facts?
You obviously can't tell facts from fiction.

I understand that middle ground is preferred
No, it's not. There's no middle ground between truth and falseness. There's no middle ground between doing the right thing and doing the wrong thing.

but unless we actually reach consensus how that should look like, ad-blockers are necessary.
Ad blockers are not necessary. I don't use them, and hundreds of millions of other people don't use them. Yet, we still browser the web, and don't die of ad overdose, and our computers don't get infected. You know why? Because ad blockers are not necessary. Theft is not necessary.

Why is it irrelevant? You can turn off the ad blocker today and see the very same behaviour today.
Exactly. Nothing happens to you when you turn off the ad blocker. But people who put honest work into providing content and services to you will be able to recoup their costs and put food on the table.

So, basically, wrong business model, no? If you can not cover your expenses or your business model is to rely on ads, then you are not doing good business.
Which of course is nothing more than a very stupid statement. The business model is fine. The problem lies with the thieves.

Customer will ran away sooner or later, just like with TV showing shitty TV shows with tono f ads in between - customers left, moved to greener pastures.
That's not a problem. The problem is when people keep consuming content/services BUT refuse to "pay" for it, even if all they'd have to do is just allow the ads to show. That's just simply theft.

Yes, let them put it behind paywall.
They already did. And you don't want to pay for that either.

Butthurt too much?
You definitely seem to be.


OK. From the point of view of website owner, this makes sense. But that can be done in meaningful way - with using ads properly, not tracking everybody and without shoving content in customer face.
In such cases, I think it is fair to disable Ad Blocker for such websites (and I do that, honestly), but there must be some level of understanding between "customer" and "website" to reach that consensus.
The "understanding" is that the website renders its services and content in return for showing ads, because it's the ads that pay, so, you don't have to. That's why they show ads. If they'd not need the ads to pay instead of you, they'd charge you directly. What part of this simple concept are you unable to understand?

How about I keep my ad blocker and if site is good enough, I turn it off for them?
Like when you only pay for movies in the cinema when you liked the movie? Like when you only pay for your steak in the supermarket if you liked it? How about your boss only pays you when he thinks you deserve it, regardless of you having worked X hours?

The services has been already rendered to you, and you've consumed the resources already. And we're talking about ads. Pixels on a screen. It costs you nothing. Yet you refuse even that. It's theft.

Why control has to be in website hands? Customer is always right, remember?
For you to be considered any kind of consumer, you'd have to pay, or at least allow the ads to show. A person who does neither is not a consumer, in the eyes of the website, but a thief.
 
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