YouTube axes video recommendations when watch history is off


    Recommended videos keep users engaged on YouTube, but starting today, YouTube will stop showing recommended videos in some places, such as the homepage, if your watch history is turned off entirely.


    Announced through a YouTube support page, Google is tweaking the world’s most popular video platform to stop showing recommendations on the homepage and other features that tailor videos to your preferences if you have your watch history turned off. YouTube’s post explains that this is because video recommendations are built based on your watch history.

    When the change kicks in, users will see a homepage on YouTube that’s mostly blank, with just the search bar up top and the navigation menu along the side. The change will apply both on mobile devices and the web.

    Starting today, if you have YouTube watch history off and have no significant prior watch history, features that require watch history to provide video recommendations will be disabled – like your YouTube home feed. This means that starting today, your home feed may look a lot different: you’ll be able to see the search bar and the left-hand guide menu, with no feed of recommended videos thus allowing you to more easily search, browse subscribed channels and explore Topic tabs instead.

    It doesn’t seem like this will affect users that use YouTube without an account, though, even though they also don’t have a watch history.

    This really seems like it could be good news or bad news, depending on your viewpoint. On the one hand, having fewer recommendations means there’s more focus on content you’ve actually subscribed to or are going to the platform to search for – YouTube even says as much – but on the other hand, video recommendations can often uncover some hidden gems.

    We are launching this new experience to make it more clear which YouTube features rely on watch history to provide video recommendations and make it more streamlined for those of you who prefer to search rather than browse recommendations.

    Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how users respond to this change – early impressions seem mixed. YouTube says the new experience will roll out starting today but slowly “over the next few months.”

    Notably, YouTube also just recently changed how you can turn watch history on or off.

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