Someone really should test this assertion

So Serrato started digging, looking for information on every Chemnitz-related video published on YouTube this year. What he found, according to a New York Times report, is that the platform’s recommendation system consistently directed people toward extremist videos on the riots — then on to far-right videos on other subjects. “Users searching for news on Chemnitz would be sent down a rabbit hole of misinformation and hate. And as interest in Chemnitz grew, it appears, YouTube funnelled many Germans to extremist pages, whose view-counts skyrocketed.”

Nobody who knows anything about YouTube will be surprised. Time and again, researchers have discovered that when videos with political or ideological content are uploaded to the platform, YouTube’s “recommender” algorithm will direct viewers to more extremist content after they have watched the first one. Given that most people probably have the autoplay feature left on by default, that means that watching YouTube videos often leads people to extremist sites.

So, how many iterations of the recommendation engine gets you from a Jezza speech to an insistence that we’ve got to starve 8 million Ukrainian kulaks? Is it more or less via Seumas Milne or Andrew Murray?

13 thoughts on “Someone really should test this assertion”

  1. Anyone who fails to welcome the hostile colonists and their quaint knife habits is by definition a racist, a fascist and a Nazi, no matter how peaceful their demonstrations may be.

  2. ‘Users of the video service looking for information on the Chemnitz riots were all too easily led to far-right sites’

    Looking for information? On Youtube? Wut?

    His gripe is that opposing views are even allowed. They’re not just right, but ‘far-right,’ revealing his intellectual dishonesty.

  3. Gamecock – Remember, Mrs Le Pen is currently facing a jail sentence for telling people what ISIS are doing, and the French authorities deliberately withheld details about the Bataclan atrocity so people wouldn’t get the right idea about Islam. Meanwhile, Tommy Robinson is being hounded for talking about stuff and filming people outside a court. (How did that trial go, btw? Can’t remember the press covering the decision).

    Can we convince the Yanks Europe has WMD and/or oil?

  4. “Zeynep Tufekci, a well-known technology commentator, found that videos about vegetarianism led to videos about veganism, videos about jogging led to videos about running ultramarathons, and so on.”

    You tube is very large but can go into every niche. So that’s their niche/usp. They can provide content to a viewer that no-one else can. But this article equates access to the ends of a spectrum to the problems created by the people at those ends. Rather than silo-ing people Youtube is actually churning ideas more thoroughly throughout the whole population. And If Tim’s point holds true that both extremes are equally accessible, they both have a shot at the mainstream.
    So yes i’d be worried about more people inhabiting the extremes but i’m not so worried about once obscure ideas being adopted into the mainstream. And i don’t see how you can seperate the ying and the yang on this.

  5. Internet site has problems with silos and confirmation bias shocker.


    This struck me as odd;

    “Given that most people probably have the autoplay feature left on by default,”

    That’s one hell of an assumption. Personally, I found that damn thing extremely fucking annoying within about 5 minutes (ie, the first time it bloody did it), and turned it off. Secondly, YouTube now plays ads pretty frequently these days; leaving autoplay on means you’ll get a ~5-20 second advert after every 2 to 3-ish videos; I tend to watch 3-5 minute videos, so that behaviour is even more irritating, as it’s just enough to interrupt focus. Thirdly, I have never seen anyone launch YouTube and just leave it running with autoplay. Fourthily, what’s up with the presentational technique thing? Learn how to use a bloody video camera and speak clearly. And for some glorious Fifthlyness, a bit of Phillip Glass on the soundtrack wouldn’t go amiss.

    Don’t get me started on the poxy abortion of YouTube’s notifications.

  6. Ducky- yes its not really a very good point… also because if a video is playing because of autoplay it’s far less likely to be actually watched.. i’ve usually gone to make a cuppa.

  7. I don’t use autoplay, or see ads.

    I download the videos and watch when & where I want usually using VLC

    Age restricted stuff “login” bypassed by using nsfw

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