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I use YouTube without signing in, because I do not want a personalized experience (read: echo chamber). However I have noticed even when not signed in, I am getting Recommended for you videos for about 6/20 related videos on each page. Most of these suggestions are awful and videos I would never watch, it almost feels like someone paid to have them there.

Can these recommendations be removed, perhaps by removing a cookie or something similar?

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2

Click Pause watch history and Clear all watch history here:

http://youtube.com/feed/history

Note that this page says:

Watch History isn't viewable when signed out

but it still appears to fix the issue. Thanks to this answer:

http://webapps.stackexchange.com/a/91603

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Using the YouTube service while not logged in will save four distinct cookies to your browser. Their names are, YSC, VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE, ST-12wz3df (Most Likely Different For Each Visitor), GPS and dkv. While it of course is impossible to reverse engineer their utility without access to Google's code we can logically assume some of their purposes. "YSC" is most likely, YouTube Search History that tracks and help populates the search bar and it expires when you exit the page. I would assume that either, "Vistor Info" or "ST-12wz3df" would be what is actually acting as a tracking beacon.

Google uses MyActivity to formally keep track of user data, while in the past this, along with YouTube History could be viewed be visitor's not logged in, this is no longer the case.

In my personal experience, I have not had issues with video recommendations when using a private mode in the browser, I also have not had issues when I blocked cookies from youtube.com, google.com and doubleclick. Because of this, I believe that cookies are the reason why your suggestions are being based on your past videos and would recommend clearing you cookies and cache, using a private mode or blocking aforementioned cookies.

One more thing, while it may appear that the suggestions are being paid for, they most likely are not. As per many laws, sponsored content must be labeled as such, Google and YoutTube appear to be following these laws.

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To me, it sounds like you're more interested in not seeing the suggested videos rather than having the personalization cleared. As far as the personalization, you could easily use incognito mode whenever you're browsing to prevent anything being stored on your session, as it would be cleared every time you close the incognito browser window.

For actually removing the content from the page, I'd recommend a user style. Install an extension for Chrome like Stylus (NOT Stylish, which used to be good but is now malware), and browse to userstyles.org and search for YouTube styles. For example, I found this one when searching the words "youtube" and "remove," and it hides the recommended videos and simplifies the page greatly.

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