YouTube ends conspiracy theory video recommendations

Brittany A. Roston - Jan 25, 2019, 6:00pm CST
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YouTube ends conspiracy theory video recommendations

YouTube has made big changes to its recommendation system over the last year, refining which videos it suggests to users based on feedback it has received. The system works to offer a wider variety of suggested content, as well as cutting down on the amount of clickbait and misleading garbage that could show up. One problem has persisted, though: conspiracy theories.

Conspiracy theory videos are easy to find on YouTube, often covering a number of topics ranging from current hot-topic politics to space travel and health. These videos may cross the line into promoting “misinformation,” though they don’t necessarily violate YouTube’s guidelines, allowing the content to remain live on the service.

Users have frequently complained about these videos showing up in their recommendations. When that happens, the user must manually click on the video and mark it as “Not interested.” Watching one video skews the user’s recommendations toward other similar potentially crazy content, and can lead some vulnerable viewers down a rabbit hole of nonsense.

In a statement today, YouTube revealed that it will be dealing with this issue by reducing the amount of this content it recommends. The company says this reduction will impact both videos that “could misinform” and “borderline content.” Examples include flat Earth promoters and conspiracy theory videos.

According to YouTube, this change will only impact less than a single percent of its videos, but will likely create a “better experience” for all the users who aren’t interested in this content. The content will remain available on YouTube, meaning interested viewers will still be able to search for it — just don’t expect to see as much of it in your suggestions.


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