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YouTube Will Now Let You Auto-Delete Viewing and Search History

YouTube is letting users set their accounts to automatically clear the list of videos they’ve watched and search for after preset time periods, as part of several new privacy and security features Google has launched.

YouTube users have been able to clear their history manually, but with the new controls they can set that data to automatically delete after either three or 18 months. The feature follows Google’s May rollout of the ability for users to automatically delete Location History and Web & App Activity (which includes things users have searched for and browsed). The new controls are accessible via myactivity.google.com.

In addition, users can disable YouTube history by “pausing” it. YouTube says doing this “may limit or disable more personalized experiences across Google services”; for example, users will not see recommendations for videos or creators based on videos they have watched or searched for. Of course, Google would prefer that people not disable or delete YouTube history — because that inhibits its ability to serve targeted ads.

“As technology evolves, so do people’s expectations for security and privacy,” Eric Miraglia, director of product management in Google’s Privacy and Data Protection Office, wrote in a blog post. “We look forward to building protections that aim to exceed those expectations, and will continue sharing regular updates about this work.”

Other new Google privacy and security features include “incognito mode” for Google Maps, which means locations users search for will no longer be stored by the internet company. Google launched incognito mode for the Chrome browser in 2008 and added it to YouTube earlier this year.

Google Assistant also is getting new privacy features. Those include the ability to delete Assistant activity from your Google Account by issuing voice commands like “Hey Google, delete the last thing I said to you” or “Hey Google, delete everything I said to you last week.” (If you’re deleting more than one week’s worth of data, you must access the Google account settings web page.) Google is rolling that out in English next week and in all other languages next month.

Google also has launched Password Checkup, a new feature that with a single click tells you if any of your passwords are considered weak or whether you’ve reused them across multiple sites. It also will alert users if Google has discovered any passwords have been compromised (e.g., via a third-party data breach).

Here’s what the new YouTube history-deletion controls look like:

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