YouTube, who’s parent company is Google (Alphabet), is a highly censorious and manipulative platform. Let’s give them as few clicks as possible, in this section we will explore some great ways to do one of several things:

  1. Use YouTube in a more privacy respecting way
  2. Use alternatives to YouTube

Let’s explore!

First, let’s discuss a few ways that we can use YouTube, while giving them as little information about us as possible. We can accomplish this by using the Tor browser (hides our true IP address from them), using a VPN, using a Virtual Machine (VM), and using proxy apps to access YouTube videos.

Using Tor browser

On Linux, I would encourage you to install the Tor browser via Flatpak (visit, and on mobile Android, install Tor using Aurora Store. This method will not obscure your information gathered such as your operating system and it’s architecture (CPU, RAM specifics, etc) nor will it stop YouTube from doing its usual logging (what you watch, how long, which parts, how long you hover over videos….) however it does obscure our IP address, one of the more valuable bits of information about us.

Using a VPN

Similar to Tor, using a good VPN will obscure our true IP address, but will not stop the collection of information about our device itself. Still, this provides a small, but meaningful cloak as to who you are. I recommend using Proton VPN and/or Mullvad VPN, both of these are highly trusted based on their track record.

Using a Virtual Machine

This may be done a handful of ways, using a VM application such as Oracle’s Virtual Box, GNOME Boxes, QEMU, Whonix, Kasm, etc. Using a VM won’t change your IP address, which can be managed by using a VPN on either the host or the guest device (or both… although that’s slow), however we can change some of the information about our Operating System and different browser settings, and so forth. So the VM by itself provides minimal advantage, but when combined with VPN and using different browser settings, can be a quite powerful tool to isolate our activity.

Browser Isolation

While this only provides a small layer of protection, I still practice this technique in order to reduce some of the tracking. Sure, each site we visit still tracks our activity, but there is likely far less information if we only use each browser window for different things. Example, if you are logged into your Facebook and Amazon accounts within the same browser window, both Facebook and Amazon have the potential to track the other company’s tab and information present, and link those two accounts. Instead, open one service in Brave browser, and the other in a Firefox browser. Even the same browser, but opening a different window can be useful to reduce the number of things that are happening as sites track our movement online, from one site to the next. This practice I consider good digital hygiene in general, not just for visiting sites like YouTube. Learn more here in a short and informative video by Rob Braxman:–About-Browser-Isolation:3

Using the Linux terminal

If someone sends you a message with a YouTube link, instead of visiting the video through a browser, you could alternatively use a tool called ‘yt-dlp’ within a terminal window and download the video directly. This won’t hide your IP address, but it does give the bare minimum of information compared to visiting YouTube through your browser where they can log any number of behavior.  yt-dlp downloads the video for you to view offline, without internet being necessary either.  yt-dlp has a ton of options (switches) to grab only video, only audio, both, rate of download, and many other things. By the way, yt-dlp works not only with YouTube videos, but also works with most other video platforms such as Rumble, Bitchute, Odysee, etc.

Install yt-dlp a number of ways, but for Debian based Linux systems you can simply install using the following command from a terminal window:

sudo apt update && sudo apt install yt-dlp -y

Using Proxy Services

This technique offers arguably the best layer of protection for us when visiting YouTube. In the following examples, you interface with the service, which then reaches out to YouTube and fetches the requested video or querry, through a proxy. Very similar to how a VPN works. You connect your device to a remote server, and that server connects to the site you are trying to access. In this case, the site only sees the IP address of your VPN server, and not your true IP address.

As with the other techniques listed above, we can combine any number of these strategies to reduce YouTube’s tracking (or any other service for that matter), as data is nearly useless without the proper identity attached to it. We can’t stop the data collection, but we can obscure who we really are.

On Desktop, I use an application called FreeTube, available in just about any format, for any platform, I choose the Flatpak version from Very intuitive and easy to use, this app strips YouTube of being able to identify you.

On mobile (Android) I sometimes use NewPipe, a client to do the same thing as using FreeTube, visiting YouTube through a proxy.

Secondly on mobile Android, I frequently use the Tor browser, this is mostly because sometimes NewPipe runs slow on my device. I’d prefer a proxy over Tor, but Tor provides some basic protection still.

Using Alternative Platforms

While YouTube has the most amount of content just for the simple reason that it has been around the longest, we have many emerging competitors that offer a far superior service, at least from a privacy standpoint. These alternative platforms offer us content in a much more organic format, by delivering us content that is largely free from any manipulation. This seemingly small issue is actually of extreme importance, because what we perceive as true, and what is true, are very different when using manipulated platforms like YouTube. Lies of omission are extremely powerful and subversive methods to hide information from us are used heavily on YouTube and similar big tech platforms. Give your clicks to services that provide censor-free videos, and shift the tech paradigm.

There are others, but those are the biggest and more prolific options, especially Rumble. I lean heavily on avoiding YouTube wherever possible and using these services instead. There are likely other ways to improve privacy when viewing YouTube content, but this page provides what I believe to be the better options. Again, many of these options can be layered to improve your defense against data collection and censorsip.