Google recognizes Microsoft Edge’s stringent protective features as an ad-blocker for YouTube on Windows 11.

Google is currently preventing some Microsoft Edge users from accessing YouTube videos if they have the “strict” tracking protection mode enabled. Microsoft Edge offers three levels of tracking protection: Basic, Balanced (default), and Strict. The “Strict” mode limits the tracking capability of companies like Google, potentially affecting content and ads. Users encountering this issue on YouTube receive a message stating that ad-blockers violate YouTube’s terms. Google has been attempting to block ad-blockers with its anti ad-block feature on YouTube, and the experiment was first observed in May. More users are now experiencing warnings and pop-up messages that impede YouTube playback unless they disable their ad-blockers. It seems that Google is also blocking Microsoft Edge users.

In our tests, we discovered that Google has established a threshold for certain YouTube users who utilize Microsoft Edge’s robust tracking protection mode called “strict.” Microsoft Edge, the default browser for Windows 11, includes a tracking prevention feature that safeguards users from online tracking by restricting companies like Google. Microsoft Edge provides three protection modes: Basic, Balanced (default), and Strict. According to Microsoft, the third and optional “Strict” mode has minimal impact on “content and ads.”

In addition to our testing, multiple users employing the “strict” mode of this protection feature in the Windows 11 default browser confirmed that they are unable to view YouTube videos. However, this issue doesn’t affect everyone, which aligns with Microsoft’s claim that the feature has minimal impact on ads. Unfortunately, if you encounter the YouTube ad-blocker pop-up, you must disable tracking protection in Microsoft Edge or switch to the default “Balanced” mode to resume video playback.

This occurs because Google does not want Microsoft Edge or any browser and extensions to block ad requests. When requests are blocked, the aforementioned screen appears. The message is visible in Microsoft Edge’s strict mode and states, “Ad blockers violate YouTube’s Terms of Service.” Google’s stance on this matter is clear. They argue that it appears you may have an ad blocker activated and you must allow YouTube or disable the ad blocker to proceed with video playback. Advertisements enable global access to YouTube, and for an ad-free experience, users can opt for YouTube Premium, ensuring that content creators are still compensated. Users have two choices: allow YouTube ads or purchase YouTube Premium.

To provide a clearer overview, Microsoft Edge presents users with three distinct levels of tracking prevention. By navigating to edge://settings/privacy, users can switch between the following modes: Basic, Balanced, and Strict. The Basic mode is for individuals who don’t mind tailored ads and are comfortable with web tracking. It primarily focuses on blocking harmful trackers like fingerprinters and crypto miners but does not block ads. The Balanced mode is the default state of tracking protection in Edge and does not block ads on YouTube. It is designed for users seeking fewer personalized ads while minimizing disruption during web browsing. The Strict mode is tailored for privacy enthusiasts and represents the highest level of tracking prevention. Users in this mode are willing to sacrifice website compatibility for uncompromised privacy. It may have minimal impact on ads and may block them or trigger YouTube alerts.

It is important to note that Microsoft Edge’s strict tracking protection does not block all ads but specifically targets those believed to be tracking the user. When YouTube detects that ad requests are being blocked through any means, it triggers the alert. Consequently, users must disable tracking protection in Microsoft Edge or settle for the default “balanced” setting. Alternatively, they can wait for Google to address the issue, although it is unlikely to happen.

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