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Are Youtube algorithms leading to a resurgence of the right?

Discussion in 'Speaker's Corner' started by VincentHanna, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. VincentHanna


    Joined: Jul 30, 2013

    Posts: 19,660

    I came across this article by chance: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/11/world/americas/youtube-brazil.html

    Which is unfortunately behind a paywall, but the below twitter thread does a good job of highlighting the salient points:

    I've mentioned political Youtube videos (regardless of their bias) many times on here before, being a rabbit hole of echo chamber reinforcement, but I didn't realise it was quite so serious.

    Bearing in mind that Youtube are owned by Google, whose corporate code of conduct is "Don't be evil", and Google often get accused of hiring lefty coders and purposefully shutting down people like Alex Jones - But that narrative doesn't appear to be reflective of reality.

    So - Does it concern anyone else how much this (fairly recent) new form of media is leading to polarisation and contributing to Worldwide political events, and how culpable should Youtube/Google be?
  2. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 65,194

    Somewhat ironically (when it comes to the article and what the author thinks they've found) I think it tends to personalise the experience - sending people, if they aren't cognisant of what the nature of what they are consuming, down paths they are already tilted towards though they might not realise it.

    If there is a movement towards the right due to YouTube I don't think that is down to YT diverting people I think it is if it is the case due to the ratio of people that deep down are already predisposed towards that.

    Though there is an overall bias as an organisation sadly when it comes to YouTube but that tends to be more left leaning.
  3. krooton


    Joined: May 9, 2004

    Posts: 25,556

    Location: Leafy outskirts of London

    And it requires less effort, back in the day, you really needed to be interested in something to read thousands of words on blogs/websites, but now videos are easy, can be sensationalised and marketed in a way to target people who were only cusping and possibly not even aware of it.

    Combine that with Facebook, and suddently the rise in flat-earthers/anti-vaxxers/etc makes a bit more sense (in the bad way).
  4. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 65,194

    Having trouble getting my thoughts into words that make sense hah but edited my post a few times :s

    But I think the level of personalisation currently going on with YouTube recommendations, etc. tends to be reinforcing things people already believe in or are inclined to believe in rather than pushing an agenda for the most part. Though at a larger level there is an agenda outside of personalised recommendations in respect to how the organisation presents itself i.e. the content in the page banners and the overall promotion of content as a company i.e. firearms content tends to be somewhat "ghosted" unless you start searching for it specifically but once you do it has no problem feeding you up more firearms related content.
  5. Hotwired


    Joined: Aug 17, 2009

    Posts: 7,125

    I largely hate recommended anything.

    Technically everything is recommended on a search engine but it's not usually filtering the results to manipulate you, it's giving results based on the word string.

    But screwing with what results you see based on what you did in the past annoys me.


    NO AND **** OFF

    But the recommendations keep piling up because companies believe there's value in taking tiny snapshots of your activities and haunting you with more of the same.
  6. efish

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 11, 2014

    Posts: 1,450

    In relation to South America perhaps unsurprisingly you tube and political beliefs are also a factor that effect health and health outcomes.

    Looking further at research on you tube here related to a specific health searches on a skin complaint.

    Use of the internet to search for health information where people have no prior knowledge is high, research suggests in regard to you tube that misleading poor quality information is high.

    An absence of evidence in a large sea of nonsense.
  7. Mr Badger


    Joined: Dec 27, 2009

    Posts: 6,609

    On one level it's just mildly irritating e.g. you book a holiday and because this involved doing some searches you then get bombarded with holiday adverts when you are no longer looking to book, or
    you click a YouTube video by accident and then get strange recommendations popping up. However it's easy to see how someone could dip their toe in the water on a subject and then keep being recommended ever more content that takes them down a rabbit hole until they are railing against the lies of main stream media, big pharama, black helicopters, chem trails or whatever and don't even realise they are trapped in an echo chamber.
  8. efish

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 11, 2014

    Posts: 1,450

    Article and video on Brazil which is open in the New York Times

    Basic claim its making

    You Tubes videos recommendation system favors videos that use controversy and provocation.

    You Tube has successfully helped a number of right-wing you tube stars to gain office and the tactics of trolling and provocation which established successes on you tube is now deployed in government.

    Further claim that you tube is used to harass and threaten political enemies.

    Effectively the claim is that people are replicating a type of negative behavior that is going to lead to great success with the algorithm on you tube.
  9. FoxEye


    Joined: Feb 17, 2006

    Posts: 21,837

    Location: Cornwall

    Yeah I find YT recommendations so useless I almost completely ignore them.

    I've had everything from chess (I don't play, have never searched for anything chess related), to YT "celebrities" that I have no interest in. I mostly use YT for music, yet it insists on recommending me crap that I'm completely disinterested in.

    Maybe it's done by general demographics and I'm of an age where it thinks I should really be playing chess... :p
  10. Dolph

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 17, 2002

    Posts: 47,539

    Location: Plymouth

    Social media generally is leading to increased extremes on all sides driven by the echo chamber effect of people having their existing irrationalities being reinforced rather than challenged.
  11. d_brennen


    Joined: Jan 30, 2009

    Posts: 15,371

    Location: Aquilonem Londinensi

    Youtube, and the rest, show you what you want to see. Or what you interact with.

    If you're an idiot or like to rise to idiot arguments, you'll get what you want :p
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
  12. PlacidCasual


    Joined: May 13, 2003

    Posts: 6,134

    I don’t have empirical evidence to back it up but it feels right from my own experience. The main stream media has a relative consensus on a large number of political themes and I think YouTube, rightly or wrongly, has become an outlet for voices outside these standards. I think the right wing has embraced this and there appears to be a strong willingness to fund relatively high quality productions.

    I do think concerns about echo chamber opinion forming is entirely reasonable. The desire to sell you advertising encourages these tech companies to offer you more of what you “like” or at least click on. Which is often things reinforcing things you’ve already watched. Although I imagine that is on all sides of the political spectrum.
  13. Werewolf


    Joined: Oct 17, 2002

    Posts: 27,859

    Location: Panting like a fiend

    One thing to remember about "main stream media" in the UK, is that at least for broadcast stuff it has to follow a number of impartiality rules (unlike in the US), and rules on being factual (again unlike the US), whilst Youtube is largely unregulated in terms of "news" content because it's not a broadcast news outlet.

    This has allowed some quite extreme "news providers" to set up on there, and find an easy audience thanks to the way youtube's algorithms push you towards "popular content", content others have clicked on after watching the same things as you, or iirc content where it's been promoted due to advertising spend etc.

    It's very, very easy for you to get a load of similar content because you've watched one or two videos and the system thinks you're actively interested in that sort of thing (one of the reasons I tend not to click through when someone posts a 30 minute video as "proof" of their stance*). A good example of this sort of thing can be if you watch a couple of bits from "kids channels" (my niece pops round), suddenly my youtube feed starts showing me loads more of that stuff, including the really low quality computer generate nonsense (because that gets a lot of views), and will often take a while for it to settle back down to my usual tech and movie related stuff.

    It's not really politically motivated, the system just seems to look at the type of content and channels/videos that are similiar and that others have watched as well.

    You also see it on Amazon, when you get "Amazon recommends you buy this [item you've never been interested in] because you've bought [something completely unrelated] as other customers also buy...", which can be fun when I've bought something for a friend and suddenly because I've bought a some wetwipes I'm getting recommendations for car seats and makeup :p

    *the other being that I don't want to waste a huge chunk of my time watching nonsense that I could read in a fraction of the time.
  14. Newbie007


    Joined: Jan 8, 2010

    Posts: 4,369

    No, I wouldnt say so. As others have mentioned YouTubes algorithims just feed you content based on what you've recently consumed. If you watch right wing content you'll get right wing suggestions, if you want left wing content you'll get left wing suggestions. Same for anything, watch food channels you will get food recomendations, watching gaming content and you'll get game channel recomendations, watch alien conspiracy content (my personal favourite at the moment lol) and you'll get other outlandish recomendations fo the same ilk.

    In my personal experiance though I would say YouTube does suppress certain right leaning/centre leaning channels as they rarely come up for me unless I search for them (Steven Crowder, Matt Christiansen, Tim Pool, Anthony Logan and the like). I do think if the more saner channels are suppressed then you'll end up getting more extreme rubbish thrown your way which could lead to politicial radicalisation (left and right).
  15. V F


    Joined: Aug 13, 2003

    Posts: 15,899

    Location: UK

    Mine is quite interesting, from Motocross, to musicians, music producers, to gaming and reviews, to PC hardware, cast reunites, some Joe Rogan, to F1, aircraft and so it goes on...

    I hardly ever see political stuff. Maybe one or two of that Joseph guy that crops up and Elon Musk.

    I'd say it works pretty well. Some very interesting stuff has popped up in the past. Like the Abu Dhabi jet pack guys and the guy on the hovering thing like James Bond.
  16. efish

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 11, 2014

    Posts: 1,450

    I think you both may be correct. Werewolfs description is close to a kit guru article I read on this.

    It was you're comment that reminded me of the article.

    So yes if you are watching content that you tube considers 'highly partisan' you are going to get more exposure to the conspiracy end of the spectrum.

    No idea if bias is a problem and it is only identifying right wing sites as overly biased and partisan.

    Even if the system worked perfectly selecting left and right wing sites the language seems to suggest its bias rather than extreme perspective its targeting.

    If you are a watcher of something it considers to be biased or overtly one sided you are more exposed to more extreme political perspectives, if you are having to search for the content you like to watch.

    Does not appear to be working if this is the case.
  17. dowie


    Joined: Jan 29, 2008

    Posts: 43,971

    ^^^ this tbh.. for some reason most of my recommendations are Dragon's Den videos, I'm not too sure about any far right rabbit holes. I've certainly seen things like Jordan Peterson stuff, and have been sent down a rabbit hole of Christopher Hitchens "Hitchslaps" which are pretty cool tbh... There is of course the odd video that say something like "SJW gets owned" etc.. but there is also the odd SJW type video too.

    The only channel I've found interesting enough to watch regularly at the moment is about a bald guy who travels around India and Eastern Europe.
  18. Zefan


    Joined: Jan 15, 2006

    Posts: 29,147

    Location: Tosche Station

    When digesting this article, it's worth noting how left leaning the NY Times is.

    I used to see a lot of left wing content on Youtube, from those such as LBC's James O'Brien etc. Although I did initially really enjoy it, I found that it quickly became tiresome as arguments became difficult to agree with. A few red pills later and my recommended feed is very, very different, and in my opinion far more in line with what I consider to be somewhat of a political awakening. I definitely notice it change after I view something out of the ordinary, and if it gets it wrong it doesn't last long before it gets back on track again. Youtube certainly has just come out of nowhere for me over the last year or so. Before 2016 I would rarely use it, but since the beginning of 2018 it's become by far my most used app.
  19. efish

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 11, 2014

    Posts: 1,450

    Also a media outlet that is commentating on a media competitor and seems to be a further prejudice by print journalists to journalists on you tube.
    Research is also not established here so any claim is going to be highly debatable.

    Media snobbery and business rivalry on its own means read with caution, more right wing leaning old school print media organization same thing.

    This is the media dealing with a highly successful competitor which is a significant threat to it.

    Its also writing about the medical Zika virus thing which is easier to deal with and check as the data is from medical research rather than journalists. Does not have the same potential for that kind of bias and as its science, less error in determining fact from nonsense/ bias.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
  20. VincentHanna


    Joined: Jul 30, 2013

    Posts: 19,660

    I think you just inadvertently confirmed it's happened to you?