Tech Bytes: Protect Your Privacy on YouTube

Step 1: Hiding Viewing Preferences and Likes

The first step to improve the privacy of your YouTube account is to prevent others from seeing your video watching habits and likes.

  • Go to your YouTube homepage. Click on your avatar icon and select “Settings” then “Privacy.”
  • The screen shows whether your liked videos, your subscriptions, and your saved playlists can be seen by the world or only by you.
  • Check the box next to each category you’d like to keep private, then click “Save.”

2: Disable Ad Personalization

Google uses the videos you watch to suggest advertisements to you; but if you want to stop Google tracking your viewing history and suggesting personalized ads, here’s how to turn that off:

  • Select “Settings” > “Privacy” and then click the Google Ads Settings link in the “Ads based on my interest” section of the page.
  • To turn off personalization, move the slider in the “Ad personalization” section to “Off.” (Note that this also turns it off for other Google services, such as search.)
  • If you want to tweak your ad settings instead, scroll down to the “How your ads are personalized” section of the page. Enjoy how much Google thinks it knows about you, then click one or more interests that are either wrong or that you simply don’t want Google to know about.
  • On the screen that appears, click “Turn off.”

You won’t be able to turn off the info about your age and gender, however. Click either and a screen appears with an “Update” option that lets you change the gender (to either male, female, or “rather not say”) or age. However, you can’t delete them.

3: Delete Your Watch and Search History

Google tracks your video search and watch history, users can see this in the history section of the YouTube menu. Users can remove individual videos from this section or all of them.

  • Go to your YouTube homepage and click “History” on the left-hand menu. You’ll see a list of all of the YouTube videos you’ve watched.
  • Hover your mouse over any video you want to delete from your history, and click the X that appears to delete it.
  • To delete every single video, click “Clear All Watch History” from the right side of the page.
  • To stop YouTube from remembering your videos, click “Pause Watch History” on the right side of the page.

To do the same for your search history, select “Search history” on the right side of the page. Click the X next to any search to delete it, and click “Clear All Search History” to delete all searches. Click “Pause Search History” to pause searches.


Thomas Pickle owns Blythewood Computer Services. www.ecssc.net, [email protected]