How to follow a Youtube channel without an account

RSS to the rescue!

So, have you already liked & subscribed, left a comment, hit the bell, hit your head, waived all privacy rights and still find your Youtube timeline being polutedpulated with everything except the newest video from the one channel, you are actually interested in? Checking for the latest updates from your favourite vlogger frequently turns into an afternoon of cat videos? Got riled up about something completely insignificant… again?

Welcome to the wonderful world of subliminal pains! The itching you don’t quite realize being there till you finally get rid of it.

What went wrong? How did you get there?

Well, you listened to the sales pitch, drank the kool-aid and, by logging in with your account, made two mistakes:

  1. Gave Google permission and opportunity to spy on you learn about your interests.
  2. Surrendered curating your timeline to Youtube, based on what Google learned.

Hit the bell, so we can notify you when there are more ads to sit through.
In return, you were given a trojaned service, left in the belief of being served relevant content, while in reality you get monetized video suggestions (aka ad wrappers) sandwiched in between just enough (seemingly) interesting things (aka clickbait) to keep you engaged. To top it off, the insolence is then conveniently presented as an infiniscroll pane, nudging you to watch “just one more”.

If ever you needed a reason for why privacy matters, this is the one: your lifetime is too precious to let an adtech company figure out how it can make you waste it, watching sponsored drivel.

Taking back control

So, what went wrong? Simple. You allowed Google/Youtube to provide the client. They designed theirs in the most self serving way possible.

Coincidentally, my blog also offers an RSS feed!
The solution to the problem is, of course, “protocols, not platforms” and curiously, we already had that as the norm in the good old days. It just got buried under layers of social media bullshit in recent years. Luckily, though, Youtube stems from the old era and still offers RSS feeds.

So, want to subscribe to a channel (and only that channel)? Just open any of the channel’s videos, click on the channel’s icon in the description box, then copy the CHANNEL_ID portion from the URL in the browser’s address bar.

Next, install the RSS reader of your choice (preferably open source) and pass it this URL (replace the CHANNEL_ID with the value from the previous step):

That’s it. You are now the sole curator of your timeline. No more tracking, no more dark patterns to keep you on the platform for as long as possible.