According to a new research report, clicking the “dislike” button may not make a big difference for YouTube viewers who are unhappy with the videos the platform recommends for them.
YouTube said users multiple ways to indicate that they do not like the content and do not want to watch similar videos. Mozilla Foundation researchers said that all these controls are relatively ineffective report Posted on Tuesday. As a result, users continued to receive unwanted referrals on YouTube, the world’s largest video site.
Researchers found that YouTube’s “dislike” button reduced similar, unwanted referrals by just 12 percent, “Does this button work?” Clicking the “do not recommend a channel” button was 43 percent effective in reducing unwanted recommendations, clicking the “dislike” button was 11 percent effective, and deleting a video from the watch history was 29 percent effective.
The researchers analyzed more than 567 million YouTube video recommendations with the help of 22,700 participants. They used Mozilla’s RegretReporter tool to study YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. It collected information about participants’ experiences on the platform. However, the participants were not representative of all YouTube users, as they downloaded the tool voluntarily.
Jesse McCroskey, one of the researchers who conducted the study, said that YouTube should be more transparent and give users more control over what they see.
Spreading false information and lies
“Maybe we should really respect human autonomy and dignity here and listen to what people are telling us, instead of shoving whatever we think they’re going to eat down their throats,” Mr. McCroskey said in an interview.
YouTube defended its recommendation system. “Our moderation does not filter all topics or viewpoints, as this may have negative effects, such as creating echo chambers for viewers,” YouTube spokeswoman Elena Hernandez said in a statement. “Mozilla’s report doesn’t take into account how our systems actually work, and so it’s hard for us to get a lot of information.”
YouTube also said its surveys show that users are generally satisfied with the recommendations they see, and that the platform does not try to block recommendations of all content related to a topic, idea or speaker. The company also said it wants to collaborate with more academic researchers researcher program.
One of the study participants asked YouTube on January 17th not to recommend content such as a video about a cow cowering in pain that contained an image of a discolored hoof. On March 15, a user received a recommendation for a video titled “This hoof is under pressure,” again featuring a graphic depiction of the end of a cow’s foot. Other examples of unsolicited referrals include gun videos, violence from the Ukraine war, and Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News.
The researchers also found that a YouTube user, “A grandmother ate cookie dough for lunch every week. That’s What Happened to His Bones.” Over the next three months, the user continued to see recommendations for similar videos of what happens to people’s stomachs, livers, and kidneys after ingesting various substances.
“It always comes back in the end,” said one user.
Since developing its recommendation system, YouTube has shown each user a personalized version of the platform, whose algorithms determine what viewers want to see based on past viewing behavior and other variables. There was a site is carefully examined to send people down rabbit holes of disinformation and political extremism.
In July 2021, Mozilla published a study that found that YouTube recommended 71 percent of videos that participants said contained misinformation, hate speech, and other objectionable content.
YouTube said its recommendation system is based on multiple “signals” and is constantly evolving, so providing transparency on how it works isn’t as easy as “listing a formula.”
“A series of signals build on top of each other and help inform our system about what you’re satisfied with: clicks, watch time, survey responses, shares, likes and dislikes,” YouTube vice president of engineering Cristos Goodrow said in a corporate post. blog post last September.