YouTube Already Knows How to Stop Serving Toxic Videos


And so YouTube doesn’t have to pick out Pizzagaters or MRAs or neo-phrenologists. It has the power to send viewers in the opposite direction. The people who run YouTube made the choice to teach its algorithms to value trash—even if they thought they were teaching the system to value something more neutral, like viewing time. There was a time, in living memory, when the YouTube recommendation system was less aggressive and it acted like Google: stacking up more and more songs by the same band you were listening to, say, or the same subject you were watching a clip about, until you’d had all you wanted and were done.

There is no way to be done in the fever swamps. What distinguishes the people in charge of YouTube from the people in charge of Google search is that the goal of Google search is to settle on satisfying results. The goal of YouTube is to keep people unsettled and unhappy, so they keep watching and keep seeing more ads. A less poisonous index would encourage to people leave the site after they got what they’d come there for. The algorithm the company really doesn’t want to tinker with is the one that tells it to make the most money it possibly can.

The Worst Thing We Read Yesterday™

The Worst Thing We Read Yesterday™