Jack Yan
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The Persuader

My personal blog, started in 2006.



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03.12.2018

YouTube tracks you even when you’ve signed out and blocked their cookies

Of course YouTube lies. Say you’ve paused your search and watch history on YouTube. And you block all youtube.com cookies. YouTube won’t track you, right? You’ve made it quite clear you don’t want a record of what you’ve done, so YouTube shouldn’t keep one.
   Wrong.
   As with Big Tech, what you expect given what you’ve told them, and what they actually do, are two different things.
   There’s just enough ambiguity in Google’s terms and conditions for YouTube to get away with this.
   It’s exactly like Facebook, which says you can opt out of certain categories of advertising (e.g. alcohol), then serve you advertising for exactly those categories you object to.
   It’s exactly like Google, which in 2009 said you could opt out of ad customization, then it began tracking you again within 24 hours of that opt-out.
   This is part of the same deal, and since US authorities are generally too gutless to go after Big Tech, they’ll keep doing this.
   Say you watched, as I did, a video on a toy collector restoring a model.
   You don’t expect any tracking given all the settings you made earlier on.
   YouTube ignores all that and has a way of determining who you are, even without cookies. Google has a series of cookies that it plants, and it can probably get you through those. Or it’s recognizing your IP address.
   I may block a lot of Google cookies but even I don’t block them all, since one of the schools I’m involved with is heavily into Google’s tools.
   After writing this I may download another browser just for their stuff and block all google.com cookies. It’s not as though Google News, the last of their services I used, is particularly useful any more, after they got rid of the customized news home pages.
   When I watched a completely unrelated video, there was a link on the side to one of the same YouTube user’s videos.

   You then have to clear your watch and search history, even though you don’t have a YouTube account, block all YouTube cookies, and you aren’t signed in to Google in any way.


   You might say that the paused history only works when you’re signed in, and that’s a fair call. But I don’t expect a user who isn’t signed in to be snooped on more than someone who is. Maybe I’m just weird that way, and the default position for Big Tech is to track everyone unless you tell them otherwise (again, their T&Cs probably allow them to get away with this).
   Consequently, YouTube says we have a ‘signed-out YouTube search history’ and a ‘signed-out YouTube watch history’ on each device.
   While I know you can use a private- or incognito-mode tab, you should be asking yourself: why on earth should I, given how I expect their website to work?
   It’s only after clearing all of that that you get a truer list of recommended videos.
   As I have said before, I really still don’t get why people want to keep using these unethical firms’ services. If Google disappeared overnight, it’d take us a week to find replacements.

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Filed under: internet, TV—Jack Yan @ 12.49

4 Responses to ‘YouTube tracks you even when you’ve signed out and blocked their cookies’

  1. jaklumen says:

    Still on a social media fast, Jack, so I reckoned I’d have a closer look at your blog again.

    Yes, I’ve noticed this behavior with YouTube. I have Firefox (on the desktop, that is) set to clear history, cookies, etc. per every session. I can browse YouTube without being signed in to Google at all, and I still see recommended videos based on what I last watched, at least within a browser session.

    So of course they’re tracking me when I’m signed out.

  2. Jack Yan says:

    I’m very glad you’ve popped by, J. I’m finding Twitter very negative lately, too. Too many intolerant people and that’s just not my bag.

  3. Getwriting says:

    Jack, are you on a VPN? If not, this will help your cause immensely. The other thing also, change your DNS to: 1.1.1.1, away from your internet providers DNS, or even worse the Google DNS if you’re using that. The 1.1.1.1 DNS is the excellent new cloudflare service which is free.

  4. Jack Yan says:

    Thank you, I already use 1.1.1.1 as there’s no way I would ever use Google’s. I do use a VPN but not 24–7 as there are some services that won’t permit me to log in through one.

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