[1912.11211] Algorithmic Extremism: Examining YouTube's Rabbit Hole of Radicalization
In conclusion, our study shows that one cannot proclaim that YouTube’s algorithm, at the current state, is leading users towards more radical content
Abstract—The role that YouTube and its behindthe-scenes recommendation algorithm plays in encouraging online radicalization has been suggested by both journalists and academics alike. This study directly quantifies these claims by examining the role that YouTubes algorithm plays in suggesting radicalized content. After categorizing nearly 800 political channels, we were able to differentiate between political schemas in order to analyze the algorithm traffic flows out and between each group. After conducting a detailed analysis of recommendations received by each channel type, we refute the popular radicalization claims. To the contrary, these data suggest that YouTubes recommendation algorithm actively discourages viewers from visiting radicalizing or extremist content. Instead, the algorithm is shown to favor mainstream media and cable news content over independent YouTube channels with slant towards left-leaning or politically neutral channels. Our study thus suggests that YouTubes recommendation algorithm fails to promote inflammatory or radicalized content, as previously claimed by several outlets.
‹Fig. 1. The intraclass correlation coefficiency between the three labelers (The Categorization Process)Fig. 4. Flow diagram presenting the flow or recommendations between different groups (Findings and Discussion)Fig. 5. The Direction of Algorithmic Recommendations (Findings and Discussion)Fig. 7. High-level view of Algorithmic Advantages/Disadvantages in Recommendation Impressions (Findings and Discussion)Fig. 6. Algorithmic Advantage by Groups (Findings and Discussion)Fig. 8. Traffic from White Identitarian Channels (Findings and Discussion)Fig. 2. Daily Views and Number of Channels (Findings and Discussion)Fig. 3. Channel Clusters (Findings and Discussion)Fig. 9. Traffic from Conspiracy Channels (Findings and Discussion)Fig. 12. Cross-category and Intra-category Recommendations (Detailed Algorithmic Advantages and Disadvantages)Fig. 13. Algorithmic Advantages/Disadvantages in Recommendation Impressions (Detailed Algorithmic Advantages and Disadvantages)Fig. 10. Algorithmic advantage for Fox News (Findings and Discussion)Fig. 11. Algorithmic Advantage of Mainstream Media (Findings and Discussion)›