Ever wonder how your dear Auntie Karen became fanatic enough to believe in the bizarre conspiracy theories shared on social media? What about your political college friend who suddenly can’t stop complaining about social justice and “cancel culture”?
well there is a good chance(opens in a new tab) they fell down youtube rabbit hole, And a new website, His Tube, wants to show you how it’s done.
his tube(opens in a new tab) There’s a new online project that gives visitors a glimpse into what videos YouTube recommends to certain types of users based on their viewing history.
The project divides these types of users into six different personality types: conspiracists, preppers, conservatives, libertarians, fruitarians and climate deniers.
Clicking on each type of YouTube viewer brings up a list of videos that the platform recommends based on that personality’s viewing history. His Tube offers a playlist for each personality so you can see which videos for preppers or climate deniers to watch, for example, to get recommendations from YouTube each day.
he had a tube created(opens in a new tab) by developer Tomo Kihara, a Mozilla Creative Media Award recipient, and funded by Mozilla Foundation(opens in a new tab),
Kihara told me over a private message that he was inspired to create his YouTube after seeing the YouTube homepage of a person he knew who had become a “conspirator”. He explained to me that it was “significantly different” from his own YouTube homepage.
So, how does Histube work?
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“Each of these are informed by interviews with actual YouTube users who have experienced similar recommendation bubbles,” Kihara said. “The videos are picked at random from the YouTube channels they’re subscribed to.”
Clicking on the “conspiracy” persona of his tube, for example, showed me several recommendations, including one from a QAnon channel saying Pizzagate is real. PizzaGate is a bizarre far-right conspiracy theory that promotes the idea that children were being trafficked from the basement of a popular DC pizza place. The conspiracy was born out of hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager in 2016. At the height of this plot, an armed gunman believing Pizzagate to be real entered the DC establishment and demanded to be taken to his basement. However, one problem: The pizza place at the center of the plot doesn’t have a crypt.
So what videos did the “conspiratorial” personality need to watch in order to trigger YouTube’s algorithms to recommend that video? According to His Tube, this profile had seen content from creators like popular YouTuber Shane Dawson, as well as some BuzzFeed channels.
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“YouTube’s recommendation algorithm accounts for 70% of all views on the platform, and when it is useful, it can show the same approach over and over again, confirming and amplifying your existing biases,” Kihara Explained(opens in a new tab) on Twitter. “It can sometimes lead people to radical beliefs and ideas”
Over the past few years, YouTube has been increasingly criticized For its controversial recommendation engine. That algorithm informs the platform which other videos it should recommend to users based on what users consume on the site. critics have Thrown light on(opens in a new tab) How this can often lead YouTube’s recommendation engine to promote videos with extremist viewpoints, pushing users into “rabbit holes” where they only see these types of videos on the platform.
Kihara tells me there’s an upcoming open-source aspect to His Tube where users will be able to create their own personas based on their own personal viewing history, and “track and trace” their YouTube recommendations. He is also accepting suggestions for additional personality types to be added to his tube for public viewing.
youtube has made significant progress during the recent Attempt to solve the problem. However, the issue still persists, Now you can see the proof for yourself his tube(opens in a new tab),