YouTube Algorithm Keeps Recommending Objectionable Videos

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YouTube algorithm can sometimes suggest very interesting videos. According to a 10-month study by Mozilla, the YouTube algorithm continues to recommend objectionable videos to users.

The YouTube algorithm can sometimes suggest very interesting videos. While these videos may be of interest to you, some of them may contain content that may upset you or convey false information to you. Google has stated that such videos are not recommended. The findings, published Wednesday, uncovered several instances of YouTube recommending videos that users have flagged as “objectionable”.

The published findings are the result of a 10-month study

According to the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, YouTubers have used the platform’s algorithm to report potentially objectionable content in thousands of videos suggested to them. The 10-month study used data collected by the foundation through the Firefox web browser and a browser extension created for Chrome users to report potentially problematic content. Mozilla gathered 3,362 reports submitted by 1,622 unique contributors from 91 countries between July 2020 and June of this year.

The nonprofit then recruited 41 researchers from the University of Exeter to review the applications and determine whether the videos should be on YouTube. Researchers found that 71 percent of videos marked as objectionable by users came from YouTube’s own recommendations. These videos also tended to be much more popular than other videos viewed by volunteers, suggesting that the company’s algorithm favored objectionable content.

9 percent of the objectionable videos, which Mozilla said had been viewed 160 million times, were later removed by YouTube for violating the platform’s policy. The published findings indicate that users in non-English speaking countries were exposed to 60 percent higher rates of objectionable videos, with the highest exposure in Brazil, Germany and France.

Mozilla’s report urges the platform to allow researchers to audit the recommendation algorithm and offer users a way to disable personalized recommendations. No steps have been taken by YouTube yet.

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