Bad YouTube Recommendations? New Study Shows There’s Almost Nothing You Can Do About It
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Bad YouTube Recommendations? New Study Shows There’s Almost Nothing You Can Do About It

If you suspected the YouTube dislike button did pretty much nothing, you may unfortunately be correct. 

Worse, even “not interested” or “remove from watch history” might not influence the type of content YouTube serves you, according to this new study.

Research conducted by Mozilla found that most tools users have to control YouTube content are “ineffective”, preventing less than half of unwanted algorithmic recommendations.

YouTube’s recommendation algorithms are both opaque and controversial, as many privacy experts and civil rights advocates say the platform favors incendiary content and sends viewers into twisted echo chambers like alt-right feeds.

Also read: Why Are Youtube Search Results Broken? This One Man Single-handedly Uploaded 2 Million Videos

Now, with Mozilla’s study, critics have a new weapon at their disposal in the fight to make algorithms more open to scrutiny.

According to Mozilla’s research, which was using millions of recommended videos and some anecdotal reports from thousands of people, all the tools YouTube gives you to dislike a video or influence your feed are more or less ineffective.

What they found was this:

The YouTube “dislike” button prevented 12 percent of unwanted recommendations, while “not interested” was even less effective, preventing just 11 percent of unwanted videos.

The most effective way to stop seeing YouTube stuff you don’t want? The “Remove from watch history” feature stopped 29 percent of unwanted recommendations, which is good, but you want to choose the “don’t recommend from channel” if you want to stop seeing certain content. That option stopped about 43 percent of unwanted content.

Their findings were based on data gathered from RegretsReporter, a browser extension that lets Firefox users “donate” their recommendations data to help researchers find actionable insights. In the case of this study, the data of more than 22,000 Firefox users helped draw the conclusions.

“Nothing changed. Sometimes I would report things as misleading and spam and the next day it was back in. It almost feels like the more negative feedback I provide to their suggestions the higher bulls**t mountain gets. Even when you block certain sources they eventually return,” said one frustrated YouTube user quoted by Mozilla.

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Bad YouTube Recommendations? New Study Shows There’s Almost Nothing You Can Do About It
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