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YouTube’s Factory Workers Are Angry

  • July 13, 2020

Brian X. Chen, a personal technology columnist for The New York Times, walks us through how to make YouTube and other Google websites forget our old habits. The big internet companies don’t need to keep every morsel of your online activity forever.

People change. So do our hobbies and interests. So there’s no practical purpose for letting Google keep a permanent record of our internet searches. Google hoards the data so that it can build detailed profiles on us, helping marketers better target us with ads.

For many years, Google has recorded our complete search histories by default, and only recently the company announced that it would set search data to auto-delete after a period of time for new users. (How many of us are new users to Google, though?)

Last fall, I wrote about how we should seriously consider taking advantage of Google’s auto-delete controls for purging search histories on, Google Maps and YouTube.

Let’s use YouTube as an example. A few months ago, I did a YouTube search on a video game I was playing. I have since finished the game, so I don’t need YouTube to keep recommending videos related to that game (nor do I need it to constantly remind my wife that I am an RPG nerd).

So in this scenario, I would like my YouTube search history to auto-delete periodically. Here’s how I set that up:

  • Visit Google’s privacy control panel called My Activity at

  • Click on Activity controls.

  • Scroll down to YouTube History and click Auto-delete.

  • Choose when you want your search activity to self-destruct. Your options are after three months or after 18 months. (I chose three months.)

Using this My Activity tool, you can also go through this process to auto-purge voice requests made with Google Assistant, destinations that you looked up on Maps and searches in Google’s Play app store.

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