HOWTO Prevent YouTube from Tracking your GMail Credentials

Updated 21 Jul 2012 to correct the cookie pattern syntax for Chrome.

I have recently noticed that when I visit a page on youtube, the top-right corner shows that I am logged in by my email address. Because I use Google Apps for Business (neĆ© Google Apps for Domains) to manage my email, and because Google recently insisted I merge all of my Google accounts, I also see a banner at the top of the page warning “This account is managed by jclark.org” with a link for more info.

What this means is that Google can track all of the videos I watch on YouTube and associate them with my GMail account. And I expect that goes for YouTube viedos embedded on other sites as well Because I value my privacy, I don’t want that behavior; that’s the primary reason I have never signed up for a YouTube account. Logging out of YouTube has an undesirable side-effect: I am immediately logged out GMail and Google Reader as well. One solution is to use separate browsers, however, I prefer to run a single browser for efficiency, and viewing any page with an embedded YouTube video in my GMail browser would tack me, even if I then use another browser to view it.

I have found a simple solution: do not allow youtube.com to receive or store cookies on my browser. This also required removing any existing youtube.com cookies already stored by the browser. This has the side effect that I cannot log in to YouTube at all, however, that is acceptable to me since I don’t have, and do not want, a YouTube account.

Here are the steps I took in Chrome:

  1. Close any open youtube.com pages.
  2. Using the wrench icon, open Preferences
  3. In the “Under the Hood” tab, in the Privacy section, click “Content Settings…”
  4. Under Cookies, the current setting should say “Allow local data to be set (recommended),” or possibly “Allow local data to be set for the current session only”. If you have another setting, you probably already take a more active role in managing your cookies, and should not need these directions.
  5. Under Cookies, click “Manage Exceptions…”
  6. Under “Hostname Pattern” type “[*.]youtube.com” (no quotes) and change the Behavior dropdown to “Block”. Close the dialog.
  7. You are returned to “Content Settings”; under Cookies click “All Cookies and Site Data…”
  8. In the search box, type “youtube” (no quotes). The list of sites’ cookies will be filtered to URLs containing “youtube”; in my case, it was all URLs ending in youtube.com. Click “Remove All”.
  9. Close preferences. Browse to YouTube, you should now see a “Sign In” link in the upper right corner. Confirm that you are still logged in to GMail.
  10. Profit! Well, a little more Privacy, at any rate.

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2 Responses to “HOWTO Prevent YouTube from Tracking your GMail Credentials”

  1. Paul S. Says:

    Thanks for the short & effective explanation. Just what I was looking for!

  2. anzi.s Says:

    Thanks!