YouTube: Privacy Protection

YouTube is now a part of the online world. Privacy is a concern. Your video-watching habits, as well as your likes and dislikes, may be visible to the entire world. You could accidentally reveal your phone number or address by uploading videos.

Here are some tips to help you protect your privacy when using YouTube. Here are the instructions for YouTube on the web as well as via a mobile application. I tested the Android app with an iPhone but it should work just the same. Check out:

Hide your video preferences

Begin by controlling your viewing habits and other privacy settings.

The web

  • Go to your YouTube homepage. Click on the avatar icon to open “Settings”, then “Privacy”.
  • This screen displays whether you can see your favorite videos, subscriptions, or saved playlists.
  • Click “Save” next to each category that you wish to keep private.
  • On your mobile device
  • Tap on the avatar icon at the top-right corner of the YouTube app.
  • Select “My channel”
  • Tap the gear icon right next to your name.
  • You can toggle the privacy setting under the subhead “Privacy” to make or break your saved playlists, subscriptions, and liked videos private.
  • Personalization can be turned off or customized

Google tracks the YouTube videos that you view and uses this information to provide personalized ads. You can choose to disable tracking of your ad preferences. You can opt out of personalized ads if you do not mind them but still wish to have some control over your privacy. For example, you can remove some information Google holds about you (such as your musical tastes).

The web

  • Click on “Settings”, then “Privacy”, and finally click the Google Ads Settings link under the “Ads Based On My Interest” section.
  • Move the slider in “Ad personalization section” to “Off”. (Note: This also disables personalization for other Google services like search.
  • Scroll down to the section “How your ads can be personalized” to adjust your settings. Take a look at how Google knows you. Then click on one or more interests you don’t want Google knowing about.
  • Click “Turn Off” on the screen.

However, you can’t turn off information about your gender and age. You can click either to open a screen with the “Update” option. This allows you to change your gender (to male, female or “rather than say”), as well as your age. You can’t delete them.

Use the mobile YouTube app

  • Tap “Library” at the bottom of YouTube’s screen, then “History.” Next tap the three-button menu to select “History controls.”
  • Tap “Manage All Activity” and then, from the screen that opens, tap the three-button Menu to the right of Search field and choose “Other Google Activity.”
  • Scroll down to “Google Ads Settings” and tap “Manage Ads Settings.” This will take you to a page where you can turn off or modify ad personalization, as explained previously.
  • Search history and delete your watch
  • YouTube tracks your searches and keeps track of videos you have viewed when you sign in to your Google account. You can delete individual videos, search or all of them.


The web

  • Click “History” in the left-hand menu. A list of YouTube videos that you have viewed will appear.
  • Click the X to remove any video from your history.
  • Click “Clear All Watch History” on the right side to delete all videos.
  • Click “Pause Watch History” to stop YouTube from saving your videos.
  • Select “Search history” to do the same thing for your search history. To delete any search, click the X next it. Click “Clear All Search History”, to clear all searches. To pause searches, click “Pause Search History”.

Use the mobile YouTube app

  • Tap the Library icon in the lower right corner of the screen and then tap “History.” This will display a list all of the videos that you have viewed since signing into Google.
  • To delete a video, tap the three-button menu beside it. Next, tap “Remove From Watch History” to remove it.
  • Tap the three-button icon in the upper-right corner of the screen to tap “History Controls.” To remove all your videos, tap “Clear Watch History” and then “Clear Search History” to delete all search histories.
  • Move the slider to the right of “Pause Watch History” to turn off YouTube. To prevent YouTube from remembering videos from your YouTube account, move the slider to the left of “Pause Search History” to turn on.

You can control the privacy of your videos

YouTube videos can be viewed anonymously. You should not include any personal information, or photos that you don’t want public. This includes the number on your house and your car’s license plate. Personal images could slip through the background so pay attention.

Once you have taken care of all that, follow these steps if you only want certain people to view your videos and not the general public.

The web

  • Go to your Creator Studio uploads page. These instructions pertain to the most current Creator Studio version.
  • For privacy control, hover your mouse over the column called Visibility.
  • Click on the drop-down menu and select “Private” from the options. A private video cannot be seen by others unless the URL is shared with them. It will not appear in searches, nor can it be posted to your channel or appear in your feed. Unlisted videos won’t appear in searches, nor will they be posted to your channel or appear in a subscriber’s feed. However, it can be shared with others and comments on, and will appear in a section of the channel.
  • To share a private video or unlisted video, hover over the description and click the three-button menu at the left of it. Next, select “Get shareable URL” to copy the link to your clipboard. You can then use the link to send an email, messaging, or any other way you choose.
    If you do not want your videos to be made public in the future, you can choose “Private” and “Unlisted” from a dialog box that opens when you upload.

Use the mobile YouTube app

  • Tap on the avatar icon at the top right corner of your home screen to select “My channel”.
  • A page will appear that contains your uploaded files, playlists and saved playlists. To the right of each upload, there will be three vertical dots. Click on this.
  • Tap on “Edit” in the pop-up menu.
  • Here you can modify the title, description and tags of your video. Select “Privacy” by tapping on it. You can choose “Public”, “Unlisted,” and “Private”.