General Question

fremen_warrior's avatar

How do I "depersonalize my motherf*cking youtube experience"?

Asked by fremen_warrior (5487points) January 23rd, 2013

Recently I noticed that no matter what I do youtube seems to “remember” now what content I viewed before, and no longer shows the videos related to the one I am watching at the moment (talking about that list of videos on the right) but is actually showing suggestions based on what I watched earlier. It started a few months ago. What is happening here? How do I stop it? (clearing the browser cache doesn’t work -> cookies?) Have any of you encountered this? It’s the same thing as the blasted google “localized” search… annoys me to no end. Help!

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31 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

Cookies. Eat your cookies. Or don’t sign in. Or sign in as a new person.

gambitking's avatar


google owns youtube, after all

glacial's avatar

This drives me bananas as well. There are a few things that can be done, but it mainly comes down to giving up conveniences that we’ve come to think of as necessary. I’ve done everything I know how to, except the only thing that I think will work, which is to always, without fail, log out of all things Google before going to YouTube, so that I look like a new user without history.

What I have done is to turn off my YouTube history. I think this is having some kind of effect. I don’t get a record of the videos I have watched. I do get recommendations based on what I watched, and I do get lists of what my Google+ friends have shared. Here’s how to turn off your YouTube history:

YouTube > Arrow next to your avatar at the top right corner > YouTube settings > Video Manager (from bar across the top) > History

I think there are options for you to have YouTube stop collecting “history” information on what you watch and (note the separate tab for this) on what you search. Infuriatingly, Google has started personalizing options depending on prior settings, so I can only see how to resume my history, not how to stop my history.

Likewise, your Google account has similar settings to tell them to stop collecting data on what you have searched in the past, and I have those selected. Because of the way they have synched their products, I suspect this may have some small effect on my YouTube account also.

But finally, even though I have done these things, I still get videos “recommended for you” based on what I have viewed. Logging out makes these disappear. It used to be that clearing history would eliminate anything for YouTube to base suggestions on, but that is clearly no longer the case. We appear to be stuck with reminders of what we’ve viewed, no matter what we do, as long as we are logged into YouTube, Gmail, or other Google products.

poisonedantidote's avatar

As well as the advice above, you may try turning your google ads targeted at my interests option of. This can be located deep in the dungeon of google settings some place.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Do you still have the “personalized experience” if you use Private Browsing? I thought that prevented tracking.

glacial's avatar

@LuckyGuy Yes, YouTube continues to recommend videos and show Google+ shares with InPrivate… as long as you are signed in. If you are not signed in, it doesn’t matter whether InPrivate browsing is on or off.

fremen_warrior's avatar

Ah I forgot I tend to log into gmail for a brief moment while playing music on youtube… I am generally hyper sensitive to people trying to manipulate me, even more so if they think I won’t notice, or when they claim it’s “not intrusive” (ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME?!). If ever there was a zombie outbreak, the people who come up with these “enhancements” to my ”... experience” would be the first on my list to shoot in the foot and leave behind as a decoy so I can make my escape. That’s how much I resent those f*ckers… grrr… <gnaws arm off>

On a related note – is there a good alternative to gmail? Even if it’s the best e-mail service currently available it’s still an annoying piece of crap, just like Chrome, and everything Google. It’s like I’m told with capitalism: “It ain’t pretty, but hey it sure beats everything else we’ve come up with so far” <shudder>

tom_g's avatar

Don’t use youtube. Recall how much you paid for it? Right. That’s because it is not the product – you are. It’s not worth getting upset about it – you’re not owed anything. There are steps you can take to free yourself from the tyranny of “free” services. It just depends on how far you want to go. For starters, some people like DuckDuckGo for searching. You can host your own email. You can check out Tor for implementing some level of anonymity. But keep in mind that you’ve been unable to simply run google’s youtube in an “incognito window”, so this might be a big step for you. But don’t stop there. You might want to look into an alternative to your credit card. Make sure your internet provider’s privacy policy is clear. Encrypt all local data. Shop with cash.

I can appreciate serious attempts to keep oneself anonymous, and I think privacy advocacy is essential. But I continue to hear complaints about free services as though people are unaware that they are the actual product. I’d love to see more paid web services. But to be honest, I thoroughly enjoy Google’s services, and opt in to nearly every additional feature that integrates all of my data. “They” know more about me than my wife does. But “they” is really a collection of supercomputers in warehouses. “They” are algorithms. I get value from the services, so I continue to use them. It’s worth it to me. But I can see how some people might object to it. When the time comes that I no longer derive value, or I see a downside, I will stop using the services. I’ll also make sure that when I stop using Google, I am not under the illusion that I am somehow safe from corporate data. I’d have to be pretty diligent to make sure that I am anonymous.

glacial's avatar

@tom_g I don’t think it is fair to trivialize people’s concerns with Google’s privacy policies. They have changed their policies greatly over a very short period of time, with very little notice or explanation. They have, on multiple occasions, made private data public against the wishes of their users. It is true that we have no obligation to use their services, but I think they could and should have acted more respectfully. Facebook manages to do a better job of this; there is no reason Google can’t as well. Do they have to? No. Does that mean we shouldn’t expect them to? No again.

The fact that I’m mad at Google doesn’t mean I’m refusing to use them again, ever. I am switching some things away from Google, and I monitor my privacy settings closely. I should be allowed to be critical of their practices without being called a reactionary.

gambitking's avatar

@glacial , turning off history does nothing for this issue.

But I forgot to mention, if you’re using Chrome for your browser, it’ll be much worse for you since that’s also a google service.

Other than discussing the issue of privacy and marketing in general, I am not sure why these answers are so long and drawn out.

The only way to really stop the experience of suggested content, ads, etc. and the tracking of your personal preferences is to SIGN OUT.

Even still, Google knows so much about you that it doesn’t even matter.

tom_g's avatar

@glacial – Quite the contrary. I don’t intend to trivialize people’s concerns with Google’s privacy policies. They should be as concerned as they want to be. And should be well informed. And I don’t believe I called anyone a “reactionary”. Rather, I know people who take privacy very seriously, and I completely respect that. If anything, I was merely stating that there are people who want to complain about some specific thing they heard about Facebook or Google, and change their habits so slightly while posting their life to Instagram. I’m also pointing out that these are not really “free” services. If you are not paying for them (and sometimes even if you are), you are providing data instead of cash. That is how these services exist.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@tom_g as much as it pi**es me off to admit to it, you’re right – I should either start paying for a private email service or shut up. Nothing is “free” nowadays. I think what gets to me the most is how Google wants to monopolize the internet, shape it in its own image so to speak… E-mail, search engine, browser, hell even google maps, and those damned street-view spy cars; and its infuriating tendency to want to integrate your ipod with your toilet to create a “better experience” (for whom I ask?!).

On a sidenote I can’t use Tor as my ISP has a problem with it. I do not use facebook, and I only have a youtube “account” because I use gmail so I get one automatically whether I want to or not. So every time I log into gmail while listening to music via youtube I also get logged into youtube and they start gathering (even more) personal info…

tom_g's avatar

Related to this, I think there are many of us who would be more than willing to pay a monthly fee for these web services as long as we could have a privacy policy that made sense. The benefit of offering a paid option for some of these services would be that it might protect against these services being lost due to lack of profit. Every time some great tool is released, it kills me that it’s free and ad-supported. Just allow me to give you my damn money. Please.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@tom_g makes sense – free services means no competition, and without competition an enterprise has no incentive to improve upon its product. Basically what you’re proposing is the reintroduction of these “free services” into the free market as services offered for a price, to stimulate innovation and therefore increase overall consumer satisfaction by forcing the providers through competition to increase product/service quality. I like the idea.

tom_g's avatar

@glacial: “They have changed their policies greatly over a very short period of time, with very little notice or explanation. They have, on multiple occasions, made private data public against the wishes of their users.”

I’m curious (and I’m in no way asking this as some kind of sarcastic attack on a “reactionary”) – what exactly are the details in the cases surrounding the private data being made public? And regarding the privacy policy changes – was this related to their consolidation of individual privacy policies into a unified policy designed to describe sharing among services? And how did the communication of these policies differ from Facebook’s (who seem be catching much more flak in the tech community)?

tom_g's avatar

@fremen_warrior: “makes sense – free services means no competition, and without competition an enterprise has no incentive to improve upon its product.”

Well, actually, there is great incentive to compete. Google has serious competition in Facebook. This is why they have had to make some big changes lately. Some people think Google+ was a social network to compete against Facebook. And they see that effort as a failure. But from Google’s perspective, Google+ is just a social layer that stretches across Google’s services. Remember that a few years ago, Google had products. Many of us demanded more integration. Well, we got it. But it wasn’t necessarily driven by us geeks screaming for integration. Rather, that’s a convenient byproduct of the market incentive to get more data signals from its users. Google doesn’t even make money off of Android, for example. Android simply is a source of signals that they use in their algorithms to sell advertising. The more signals from their users, the more $ they get for advertising – which is how Google is in business. So, they were able to pivot and turn these distinct products into services under one umbrella.

Edit: Sorry for the derail.

glacial's avatar

@tom_g I’m specifically referring to their launch of Google Buzz a few years ago.

Really, is it such a leap to say that you were calling someone reactionary by suggesting they give up credit cards and use cash only because of privacy concerns? I think it was an appropriate word.

tom_g's avatar

@glacial: “Really, is it such a leap to say that you were calling someone reactionary by suggesting they give up credit cards and use cash only because of privacy concerns? I think it was an appropriate word.”

Hmmm…Are you being serious right now, are you pulling my leg? I am trying to find the connection and I’m unable to. Draw it for me if you are being serious.

glacial's avatar

@tom_g I’m not sure how I can make it clearer for you… do you think I am using it in a political sense? I’m not. I mean it in this sense:

“Of, or relating to, or characterized by reaction, or a reaction (in various senses); that constitutes a reaction or reversal.” (OED)

tom_g's avatar

@glacial – This is getting silly. So, what exactly is the purpose of “I should be allowed to be critical of their practices without being called a reactionary.”? How does that apply to anything I said, and what is your intention here.

Let me elaborate on the credit cards thing. I have an aunt who refuses to make online purchase because she refuses to give them her credit card info. Yet, she uses her credit card for every other purchase.
I have known people who take privacy very seriously, are aware of privacy policies, avoid credit cards, use cash primarily, etc because it matters to them. I am not placing judgement on that. I am saying that there are degrees of privacy. First, you can learn to logout, not use services, use incognito mode, anonymizers, cash, etc. But claiming “I don’t use Facebook (or Google) because it violates my privacy” has logical consequences. If I don’t like getting wet, I don’t place a sandwich baggie on my shoulder and smugly declare “I’m dry!”. I will probably put a raincoat on.
Anyway, what are we talking about again?

glacial's avatar

@tom_g I agree, it is silly. I have no idea why you are taking issue with what I thought was a simple clarification. I’m not taking it any further.

Jeez, I used to think we agreed on simply everything.

gambitking's avatar

Privacy, especially as it exists on places like youtube and google, is nothing but an illusion.

If you come to my website from Google, I know where you are, your IP address, what browser you use, what OS you use, your system specs, how you reached my site (and in most cases what keywords you typed if you came through google) and many other factors. In many cases, I can found out even more. I also know how long you stayed on my site and where you went.

It is naive to think there is such a thing as privacy this day in age.

I understand how annoying it can be as far as ads and related media though.

And regarding social sites like Facebook, and the monetization of “free services”. I’ve stuck by one credo that’ll stand true no matter how the services are set up:

If you use these free services, and you are not a consumer, then you are the product.

augustlan's avatar

You know, I don’t even care about the privacy aspect. I know that nothing on the internet is truly private. But it does piss me off that instead of showing me related videos (which I might have enjoyed browsing), it shows me totally unrelated videos that relate to something else I’ve previously watched. Since I “live” in gmail (for a mod here, it’s essential), I can’t be bothered to sign out every time I click on a youtube link. There really ought to be a way to choose a preference for “related content” right there on youtube. Grumble, grumble, GET OFF MY LAWN.

glacial's avatar

@augustlan That is one of the things that bugs me… I would complain less about the free service if the service was actually working. People go to YouTube to see the new new thing, not the thing they watched two weeks ago. I think this is something that needs fixing.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Yea, youtube has been getting really fucking annoying lately. Aside from the issue you brought up I’m really getting pissed with this whole link your youtube and gmail accounts “OHhhh heyy do want to make youtube even more personal and start displaying your full name?” Uhhh no thanks youtube, i’ll just stick with my username “are you sure?” yes youtube I’m sure. “are you really sure? it really would make your experience much fuller.” No, it won’t, leave me the fuck alone….“positive?” YESSSSS!

glacial's avatar

@uberbatman “And wouldn’t you like to give us your cell number so we can discuss it… I mean to enhance your security?” Hahaha.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@glacial Egh its like every 3 months I have to tell gmail fuck off you’re not getting my phone number

gambitking's avatar

@uberbatman they probably already have it

El_Cadejo's avatar

@gambitking I’m sure they do actually, though if that is the case it only makes them asking again even more annoying :P

fremen_warrior's avatar

I’ll ask again – is there a non-invasive alternative to gmail?

tom_g's avatar

I have heard of people enjoying FastMail and Pobox.

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