Configuration Issue - BlackList Breaking Video Playback

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Expected Behaviour:

Expecting to be able to navigate to site https://www.msnbc.com/ and be able to view embedded videos.
This was possible until approx 1-2 weeks ago.

Actual Behaviour:

Attempting to play back video at the above web site fails. The site shows the MSNBC "hourglass" icon.
PiHole web interface is showing 2 blocked domains after attempting to view a video:-

assets.adobedtm.com
snappytvpoc-vh.akamaihd.com

Debug Token:

https://tricorder.pi-hole.net/k6gs37cu6x

Additional Data

  1. Running on Raspberry Pi 4B

  2. Updated Pi with both upgrade and dist-upgrade to ensure latest platform binaries

  3. Updated PiHole using command-line update and observe "latest" showing on web interface

  4. If I locally bypass the PiHole service on my local network and use Google (8.8.8.8 / 8.8.4.4) then all video playback returns to normal.

  5. This issue only found [so far] on msnbc.com - not seen on either cnn.com, youtube.com or bbc.co.uk.

Did you try the suggestion I had in my comment?

Dan,
I see from your comment that you say that you found the domain in a file at location,

"http://sysctl.org/cameleon/hosts"

and that you recommend disabling it. Unfortunately, you don't explain the connection between this URL or list and my local PiHole instances. I've been looking in my local /etc/pihole/ folder and I find a file there, "gravity.list", which contains the value "assets.adobedtm.com", which looks as though it might have been the entry being blocked by PiHole.

Your suggestion isn't entirely clear, because you don't set out what you expect me to do.

Before I risk damage, could I therefore ask if you would be kind enough to confirm for me that what you expect me to do here is:-

  1. Take a copy of gravity.list
  2. Update the original gravity.list by removing the 2 URLs that are being blocked when I attempt to watch a video on MSNBC
  3. Restart PiHole using the command line

Presumably if I do this and nothing improves, then my next course of action would be to revert to the original version of the file and report back?

Thank you

can't you quickly whitelist the problem domains and test? easy to remove them from the whitelist if it doesn't help.

Good suggestion, LH. I did as you recommended and that does, indeed, seem to solve the problem.

Might be interested to see what the root cause of the problem was, however.

Thanks for the assist - much appreciated!

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The root cause was that this domain was on one of your subscribed adlists. Please post the output of the following from the Pi terminal. This will show which adlists or local domain entries were blocking these domains.

pihole -q assets.adobedtm.com

pihole -q snappytvpoc-vh.akamaihd.com

pihole -q assets.adobedtm.com
Match found in exact whitelist
assets.adobedtm.com
Match found in http://sysctl.org/cameleon/hosts:
assets.adobedtm.com

pihole -q snappytvpoc-vh.akamaihd.com
Match found in exact whitelist
snappytvpoc-vh.akamaihd.com

This is why that domain was blocked. It is contained in an adlist to which you subscribe. Now that you have whitelisted it, the domain will never be blocked by Pi-hole again, regardless of which adlists you use.

happy to have been of some help. msnbc, on!

I just wanted to add a correction and concluding footnote to this thread.

After I added :-

assets.adobedtm.com
snappytvpoc-vh.akamaihd.com

to the whitelist and this immediately resolved the issue that I was seeing when using Firefox on either my Linux or Windows 10 builds. So: result. However, I then discovered that I still had the same problem when trying to use my iPad.

I repeated the process of diagnosis (use the PiHole web interface to run Settings -> Flush Logs, go back to the dashboard and confirm that the "Top Blocked Domains" list was empty. I then attempted to run a video on the MSNBC.com and saw the same problem with the video not starting. This time, the Top Blocked Domains list contained a new entry, snappytvpoc-vh.akamaihd.net, instead of the .com domain.

I've re-run these tests a few times now and I see the .net variant of the Akamai domain only being called by my iPad.

I then reset everything once more and I re-ran the iPad tests, only this time I used the "Brave" browser [which aims to be more privacy-respecting than Safari] and I got the exact same results. So if you see this problem on a mobile device, you might have to re-run the diagnostic checks.

One little footnote... I've also been running "Ad Block Plus" for iOS on this iPad, in the hope that it would stop the more egregious monitoring of net use. Not a bit of it. The iOS version of this application doesn't allow a user to add their own custom block domains and it is quite remarkable to see how many are let through by this supposed blocker, only to be stopped by PiHole.

Hope this helps anyone else seeing a similar challenge.

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