YouTube alerts third-party clients: Show ads or you'll be banned

Getty Images | Chris McGrath

YouTube alerts third-party ad blocking apps. An ominous post on YouTube's official community help forum titled “Implementation on Third-Party Apps” says the company is “enhancing our enforcement on third-party apps that violate YouTube's terms of service, specifically ad-blocking apps.” Google would really love for you all to pay for YouTube Premium.

YouTube has started using third-party apps, which often enable YouTube ad blocking. The company shut down one of the most popular third-party apps, YouTube Vanced, in 2022. Vanced was open source, so new alternatives appeared almost immediately. Vanced takes the official YouTube Android client and installs a redundant replacement version with a bunch of patches. It turns on all YouTube Premium features like ad blocking, background playback, and downloading without paying for the premium subscription. It also adds features that the official app doesn't have, such as additional themes and accessibility features, “repeat” and “dislike” buttons, and the ability to turn off addictive “suggestions” that appear throughout the app.

Another popular option is “NewPipe”, a from-scratch YouTube player that follows the open source ethos and is only available in the FOSS store. NewPipe wants a lightweight client without the proprietary code and millions of permissions that YouTube needs, but it also blocks ads.

Instead of pursuing the projects, Google says it will start disabling users who use these apps. “Viewers using these third-party apps may experience buffering issues or see the ‘The following content is not available in this app’ error when trying to watch a video,” the post says. The company continues: “We want to emphasize that our terms do not allow third-party apps to turn off ads because that prevents the creator from getting rewarded for viewership. Ads on YouTube help support creators and allow billions of people around the world to use the streaming service.”

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If you remember when Google fought hard to keep third-party YouTube apps off Windows Phone, the company appears to be taking a similar stance against all third-party YouTube clients, even if they wanted to integrate ads. Google says today that this is no longer the case, and will allow third-party YouTube clients on the condition that they “follow our site API Services Terms of Service“.” However, we don't know of any apps that Google actually supports in this offering.

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