I visited a friend who is watching Breaking Bad. Now clips appear on my YouTube?


This is pure speculation, in descending order of probability:

– Random coincidence, which you notice in the one case where it happens but not in the 99 cases where it does not.

– You did search for it or something related. Or, you got one clip due to one of the other reasons, clicked it, now you’re getting more.

– Correlation via IP

– Correlation via location

Since we’re talking about YouTube recommendations, not ads, I kinda doubt the last two though. That would provide very little benefit and be a huge privacy risk. Location is certainly considered to some extent, but I would expect this to be on a country/region level, not city and certainly not fine enough for your friend to meaningfully influence it.

Location-based tracking. In this case, your phone was on your friend’s wifi so they know whatever that wifi was doing while you were there, you were in the room.

Unless you’ve already completely de-googled your life, this is the most straightforward way to link you to the activity. All it would take is for you to have pinged Google’s servers with that phone just once, ever, and they’ve got it fingerprinted. So when it shows up on the same network accessing YouTube, they placed you.

Happened to me as well. I suspect that your Android phone noticed his Wifi network, mapped it to his Google id, and now his your and his YT accounts are partially sharing recomendations. That’s the least pernicious mechanism I can come up with at least.

Location tracking – they don’t use the mic as many suspect, but definitely know where you were and who you were with, and presumably what you were watching if it was google-linked. Perhaps there’s Bluetooth/wifi mechanisms in there too to make it easier but it’s the same idea. That said I don’t see why they’d do that for YouTube recommended… maybe coincidence

>they don’t use the mic as many suspect

I know they claim they don’t, but do you have reliable information that confirms this? Like experience on an internal team at Google/Apple?

>they don’t use the mic as many suspect

Unfortunately, there’s no way to confirm that since the only phone out there with a hardware microphone switch is the Pinephone.

There was a private showing of the next episode of Better Call Saul yesterday at a film festival of sorts, the rest of us won’t see that episode until July.

It’s probably just trending topic and you fit a similar profile to people that would watch the show/Breaking Bad. My viewing habits are pretty stable and I noticed I get recommendations for The Wire even after resetting all my cookies as well as not logging in to my Google account

Just so you know, over the past couple of weeks I’ve been getting clips of Breaking Bad recommended to me – which I think it’s something that’s just trending and it’s getting a lot of views.

I think it’s random coincidence BB is getting traction now.

(Before BB was The Sopranos clips)

Honestly I would love to see it be the norm, maybe even law, that a recommendation is accompanied by a reason for the recommendation. Is this because I watched a similar video? Or is it because you snooped on my microphone when I was at the local cafe?

This might not be possible – there are many inputs into the model; it would be impossible to trace which one tipped the scale.

Better to make listening on the mic illegal, punishable by prison time for the execs.

how did you watch the episode? many streaming services, devices, or smart TVs track what you’re watching.

or more likely, you googled something breaking bad related while watching or talking about it.

or even more likely, it’s a coincidence. my youtube recommendations also had a breaking bad clip in them yesterday, despite me not watching it, talking about it, or thinking about it. better call saul season ended recently, and people are searching for breaking bad clips. it doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

It depends on your privacy settings, the local privacy laws in effect, and what you did over at your friend’s place.

If you watched the episodes on a device connected to your Google account in any way I think the answer would be obvious.

Another reason you might be seeing ads for it is that you might’ve looked up an actor or character on your phone which Google linked back to the show.

It’s also possible that Google noticed your account was suddenly shared by someone who showed interest in the show and “infected” your account.

Another possibility is that Google picked up on the show if you used a Chromecast on the same network to watch an episode; media controls are broadcast throughout the network.

There are more far fetched reasons. For example, if your location history is on and the neighbourhood where your friend lives is seeing a sudden spike in interest in Breaking Bad (watch parties? Idk), you may have been flagged as interested purely by geographical proximity.

It can also be a combination of Baader-Meinhof and your behaviour around the ad (looking at it longer, possibly unintentionally out of surprise) that reinforced the topic in your ad preferences.

Tl;dr, Google can learn a lot about you through indirect means. It’s kind of their business model. Compare to the famous case where a supermarket knew someone in a US household was pregnant before the other family members did based on purchasing behaviour. It’s scary how much you can tell about a person from their shopping patterns alone and Google has their hands in so much more.

None of this should probably be happening if you’ve disabled personalised ads (https://adssettings.google.com/), at least not on Google’s platform.

Pure guessing but your phoned showed your location and what you were watching (through your friends data), and thus recommends Breaking Bad to you now.

Not even location, just OP’s phone discovered that a router with a unique MAC that just LOVES streaming BB is sometimes nearby. Google’s “AI” dictates that means OP would absolutely love BB too, it might be flawed logic but it probably works

Your phone is now associated with his IP address/location now. Targeting individual is hard. But targeting people at a location/up is not.

Data is usually refreshed monthly.
He may also see ads for things you search for.

I can’t help but think these are confirmation bias events (if the clips were for “Battlestar Galactica” and not BB you wouldn’t be writing about it), but similar things happened to me too:

– I walked by an e-bike store, stopped to look at the model displayed on the window, a few days later I got ads for e-bikes on Instagram (I can’t remember mow if it’s for the particular store’s brand).

– I opened Instagram at a carwash, a few days later, ads for car-detailiny services – here I have a strong feeling it used my location data.

I sometimes wonder if phones are actively recording audio, but more likely these companies are all sharing data or some app on your phone is doing it. No matter how much I change my privacy settings to the max, I still have the same things happen to me where it is extremely unsettling.

I believe Facebook recommendations are somewhat bidirectional – if they visited your Facebook page (by searching you, even if they didn’t add you), I think Facebook will recommend that you add them.

This one is easy – Facebook recommends people based on geolocation. It’s very common to get friend suggestions to people you’ve met, or just been in the same building with.

I had a 5 minute conversation with my niece at the park about rotary phones and now my feed is full of rotary phone-related articles. This happens more times than I can remember.

My gut reaction is that it listens to me, either directly or via some app, but I know Google has refuted this fact. I suppose this is testable too, so I tend to fall on the confirmation bias side of things.