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Is it possible to escape YouTube algorithm? Here’s how to do it

Are you someone who’s been spending quite a bit of time on YouTube recently and not even sure why? Whenever you have some free time, you just end up on the homepage, watching random stuff. If you’re in the same boat and have some guilt about it, don’t sweat it – it’s not on you. Some of the sharpest minds in psychology, data science, and programming are on a mission to make sure that the YouTube homepage is as captivating as it can be.

We’ve all come across stories about how the YouTube algorithm can veer off course, often in relation to radical content. But even without those extreme cases, the algorithm can be a major time-waster. It’s essentially a system engineered to keep you glued to your screen, watching videos for as long as humanly possible.

While some folks might enjoy the algorithm’s recommendations, if you’re after more control over your screen time, the suggestion is to steer clear of it altogether. And here’s the good news: Google has made it simpler. If you disable your YouTube watch history, your homepage won’t be cluttered with recommended videos. Here’s how to do it.

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How to turn off YouTube history

To kick things off, just go over to the My Google Activity page. Here, you can manage the information Google keeps on you, like the websites you visit, your location, and your watch history. Click on your YouTube History from there.

They’ll pop the question: Do you want to pause your history? Just hit that Pause button.

There you have it! If you want, you can delete your whole YouTube history, but it’s not necessary for this to function. When you visit the YouTube homepage, you won’t spot any recommended videos. Instead, you’ll see a message nudging you to re-enable your history.

Isn’t that a relief? Say goodbye to those impulsive video binges – from now on, you’ll need to actively search for what you want to watch.

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How to use YouTube on your own terms

Disabling the algorithm doesn’t mean you have to bid farewell to YouTube altogether. It simply means you get to watch it on your own terms. And don’t worry; the search function is still up and running, so you can always find what you’re looking for that way.

But here’s my top tip: Dive into your YouTube subscriptions. You can locate this page right on YouTube’s homepage by clicking on “Subscriptions.” It lays out all the most recent videos from the channels you’ve subscribed to. Give it a scroll, and I bet you’ll stumble upon some videos that pique your interest.

The issue with the YouTube algorithm, and similar recommendation systems, is that they rely solely on predicting your preferences from your previous actions. They know your past self but not necessarily the future you aspire to become. Perhaps right now, you’re into celebrity gossip, but deep down, you’d rather be the type of person who spends their free time learning about gardening.

The algorithm complicates things by constantly tempting you with the content you’ve had a history of struggling to resist. But if you switch to a subscriptions feed filled with gardening channels, you’ll be exposed to the kind of content you genuinely want to be watching instead.