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How YouTube Built a Radicalization Machine for the Far-Right

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Dec 18, 2018.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    Kelly Weill, writing for The Daily Beast:

    YouTube has become a quiet powerhouse of political radicalization in recent years, powered by an algorithm that a former employee says suggests increasingly fringe content. And far-right YouTubers have learned to exploit that algorithm and land their videos high in the recommendations on less extreme videos. The Daily Beast spoke to three men whose YouTube habits pushed them down a far-right path and who have since logged out of hate.

    We built all these tools, we wrote the code to keep people engaged, to keep them watching and clicking ads, and pushed it out into the world without ever thinking about the consequences. The other day I opened up YouTube in a browser I never use, via a VPN in incognito mode, and it was about six videos before I started getting recommended anti-feminism shit from known bigots. This is bad.

  2. Anticitizen7

    Please be kind. Like actually kind though.

    This article is bad.

    Although, i'm sure I've probably just been radicalized by Pewdiepie.
  3. All your posts are bad.
  4. Fucking Dustin

    Prestigious Prestigious

    It's horrifying how many people we all probably know who have had their worldviews shaped by something as simple as YouTube algorithms. People can deny it but the results are VERY obvious. The whole "YouTube telling you to reject other news outlets" is way too real.
    dadbolt likes this.
  5. Pooch


  6. Pooch


    Yea, this article is garbage, but I am thankful it gave us this gem:

    "These days, he blogs about topics the far right views as anathema: racial justice, gender equality, and, one of his personal passions, the furry community."
    Bkraniger19 likes this.
  7. Y’all make it too easy to spot how shitty you are when you barely post and only post gross shit.
  8. Anticitizen7

    Please be kind. Like actually kind though.

    I don’t really think I fit into this but alright dude. I know we got into a spat in the Brand New thread awhile back but other than that I think I’ve been fine. At least I don’t do anything silly like say “all your posts are bad” anytime someone seems like they think differently than I do.

    Thank you though. You’ve reminded me why I barely post here.
  9. Cool. Please post even less here.
    Joe4th, dadbolt, Wharf Rat and 3 others like this.
  10. Pooch


    You saw through the bullshit in that article. You must be a Proud Boy
  11. Fucking Dustin

    Prestigious Prestigious

    The whole "this article is shit and the real issue is you saying my posts are bad" thing kinda proves a lot of the things the article says about people who fall down those rabbit holes
    mercury and Pooch like this.
  12. Pooch


    Tate already banned him. Seems petty
  13. Martina Dec 19, 2018
    (Last edited: Dec 19, 2018)


    Jason, two questions:

    1) What were the six videos about (themes, you neednt list them all) that you watched before getting anti-feminist video spam? If it included content that was trending popular with anti-feminist users recently, even if you don't think the content you watched would have had any particular appeal to that sort of user, that plus some other attributes I'll mention in (2) below that might be reason for a faceless algorithm to suggest you might want to watch anti-feminist content.

    2) Was the VPN you used a free or low-cost VPN? A little tech background for this question: you mentioned you went opened a browser you haven't used before in incognito mode and with a VPN visited YouTube and after a half-dozen videos started getting anti-feminism stuff. It's not only socially irresponsible for them to do that, of course, but it's also bad business because the stuff that offends you usually doesn't motivate you to buy stuff or keep watching.

    Your choice of a browser that wouldn't be associated with you with incognito mode shouldn't incline YouTube to favor anti-feminist agitprop but it also won't disfavor your from seeing that content. Politicized content doesn't have options like "safe search" to opt into and it is popular, and anti-feminist and conservative politicized content is more popular than you may realize especially in conservative parts of the country, so at some point if your scanty profile/footprint doesn't give them reason to think you don't want to see that content I wouldn't be suprised to see it offered, especially if VPN maybe skewing your feed in ways one might not anticipate.

    A virtual private network gives you an IP that has no relation to your actual IP and changes other internet attributes that could identify you and helps prevent hacking (packet sniffing, whatever) of your internet connection. While the IP it gives you is not a static IP it comes from a pool of IPs assigned by the VPN, and I wonder if the IP maybe was appeared to YouTube' s algorithms as similar to or even identical to on used by another user who accessed that sort of stuff? I think this may be especially true for free or low-cost VPNs which might be more likely used by people wanting to access sketchy content -- meaning they are using the VPN not simply to protecting their banking transactions or for conventional business reasons but to access copyright-infringing / sketchy / adult / highly contraversial content.

    Also, whatever your choice of VPN, your IP is always going to be associated with a location, not your actual location of course. If the IP you get geolocates to a conservative part of the country like a more conservative part of a state if not a stereotypical "red state" the content provider might assume you might have much more conservative tastes than if your IP geolocates to, say, Portlandia.

    I'm not saying any of this to defend YouTube and the social networks for providing hateful, anti-social content, I'm just suggesting that there may be reasons that may not be obvious why YouTube's algorithms so quickly recommended to you anti-feminist stuff.
  14. Wharf Rat

    I know a little something you won't ever know Prestigious

    damn this thread rules. please keep coming out and saying dumb stuff everyone
  15. Bkraniger19


    I don't agree with the posters above, but shouldn't people be able to voice their own opinions? Why does everyones opinion have to be the same around here?
  16. Wharf Rat

    I know a little something you won't ever know Prestigious

    People are voicing them, and then others are voicing their own opinions on those opinions, which is that they are dumb
    Joe4th likes this.
  17. Yes and opinions aren't all equal.