back to article YouTube loves recommending conservative vids regardless of your beliefs

YouTube's recommendation algorithm not only gently traps viewers in mild echo chambers, it is more likely to suggest conservative-leaning videos regardless of your political alignment. That's according to a study out of New York University's Center for Social Media and Politics (CSMP) that was highlighted this month by …

  1. Dr.Flay

    Who decides what is left and right ?

    A highly flawed study if they didn't have the option of, "is the video critical but non-partisan?"

    Videos criticising ideas espoused by one side or the other will be presented as leaning into the other camp.

    There are lots of content creators being labelled as something they are not, because they disagree on a topic.

    Shame so many people can only see life through the lens of politics so assume everyone else does.

    1. VoiceOfTruth

      Re: Who decides what is left and right ?

      You have echoed my thoughts exactly with your title.

      -> The team scored the ideological view of each vid, based on whether it was more conservative or liberal-leaning,..

      -> How that ideological score was determined is kinda crucial to this, so we'll trust for a moment that it's robust.

      Why are *you* trusting this? Surely that is the most crucial aspect of this study? Sorry, but your "we'll trust for a moment" is nowhere near satisfactory. The terms left and right mean different things to different people, and it is no different with those conducting this study.

      On the linked study there is this important line: "Using a novel method to estimate the ideology of a YouTube video..."

      I can assure you that if I invent a novel method for classifying videos I can label them right, left, centrist, or mixture of all three at the same time, at a whim. The research paper has been published, it is 30 pages long with references and I don't have time to read it right now. But that doesn't mean that I won't.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who decides what is left and right ?

        Well one thing is for sure, we aren't trusting you, based on your consistent history of trolling on this site.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Who decides what is left and right ?

          Umm, well on the one hand I won't be trusting VoT, but on the other hand that is their whole gucling point. So I'm going to take their side on this occasion.

          ("gucling": an interesting phone-keyboard-induced mis-spelling that I leave as a exercise for the reader.)

    2. Oglethorpe

      Re: Who decides what is left and right ?

      Silence is violence to some people. That is, if you're not loudly supporting their side, you're quietly supporting their opponents.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who decides what is left and right ?

        What happened to the concept of supporting neither side?

        I can be anti Putin and anti proxy war being run from an ocean away.

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: Who decides what is left and right ?

          No, you can't, Kremlinbot. No-one's buying that nonsense.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Who decides what is left and right ?

            Oh darn, you got me! I secretly wish Putin would nuke everyone :)

          2. Stork Silver badge

            Re: Who decides what is left and right ?

            I’m afraid you’re wrong. Far too many buy that nonsense.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Who decides what is left and right ?

      Who decides?

      Science. Maybe you've heard of it.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Who decides what is left and right ?

        And I see four people have not heard of science.

        1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

          Re: Who decides what is left and right ?

          As someone with two degrees in the physical sciences, I can assure you that left-right political categorisation is not a scientific discipline. There is such a thing as scientific analysis of political views, and the whole "left/right" categorisation is such an oversimplification as to be nearly worthless.

          In terms of who gets to define what is "left and right", well, according to Wikipedia:

          Within the left–right political spectrum, Left and Right were coined during the French Revolution, referring to the seating arrangement in the French Estates General. Those who sat on the left generally opposed the Ancien Régime and the Bourbon monarchy and supported the French Revolution, the creation of a democratic republic and the secularisation of society while those on the right were supportive of the traditional institutions of the Ancien Régime.

          (from, there is also some discourse on the origins in the related article,

    4. The Axe

      Re: Who decides what is left and right ?

      "There are lots of content creators being labelled as something they are not, because they disagree on a topic."

      Like Tim Pool is is consistently labelled as right wing when he considers himself centre/liberal. the labelling being done by left wingers who think anything to the right of Stalin as right wing.

      1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Who decides what is left and right ?

        Or like any Democrat is labeled as a socialist/Communist (because conservatives don't know the difference) even when most Democrats are center-right.

      2. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

        Re: Who decides what is left and right ?

        Says someone who thinks anyone on the left wing is to the left of Stalin?

        This is why labels like "left wing" and "right wing" are deeply unhelpful, because there are lots of idiots who think that they refer only to extreme viewpoints and churn out polarising rhetoric like the post above.

  2. martinusher Silver badge

    You're not obliged to watch their suggestions

    youTube occasionally serves up off the wall, potentially political and (I'd guess) paid for content. I ignore it.

    Like everything else out on the 'net its not worth getting involved with opinions.

    1. Oh Homer

      Re: You're not obliged to watch their suggestions

      No but I've found that I'm constantly being led towards content/creators I don't like.

      I think the issue is that the algorithm is conflating academic interest with support. What I research and what I agree with are not even remotely connected.

      Now you might argue that if the algorithm detects a pattern in my research, it's right to conclude that I will naturally want more of the same, but the problem is that it doesn't seem to be able to tell the difference between content that's dryly analysing a subject, and content that's fanatically endorsing it.

      And yes it probably is true that left wingers are more likely to play on both sides of the fence, specifically because of our more academic tendencies. Whereas right wingers tend more towards wilful ignorance and dogmatism. So it isn't really surprising that the algorithm is skewed to the right.

      1. Trigun

        Re: You're not obliged to watch their suggestions

        "And yes it probably is true that left wingers are more likely to play on both sides of the fence, specifically because of our more academic tendencies. Whereas right wingers tend more towards wilful ignorance and dogmatism. So it isn't really surprising that the algorithm is skewed to the right."

        I think that people, not "left wingers", nor "right wingers", get tribalised and make sweeping, disparaging and ignorant statements about the other side. I have seen good, intelligent videos from both sides. Similarly, I've seen what I can only term mental illness as well.

        It's the people, not the "side" so it's better not to take a dump on "other side" - treat people as individuals if you can and assess them by what they say and do.

  3. 桜沢墨

    Don't get political, Youtube is the real enemy

    I doubt the accuracy of this study for a few vague terms (which might be better defined outside this article) and a small sample size considering that billions use youtube. A lot of reg users like to get political and might argue over this article, but no matter whether you think that youtube is veering users left or right, intentionally or not, the real issue is that people are getting veered at all. I wouldn't put it on youtube to not keep users hooked onto their platform, but I would blame the users for letting Youtube steer them wherever they want. Be smart about your use of Youtube! You know what will and won't be a waste of your time, and it's your job to hold yourself to not get sucked into watching videos for hours. Of course Youtube and Google are still evil for sucking so much data from you that they know what buttons to push to make you do what they want, but ultimately the decision to watch Youtube should still be yours.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Left or right

    Never read the comments!

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Left or right

      And do not feed the trolls...

      And just don't f'ing watch stupid political carp on YouTube - read a newspaper (better two, from different publishers with different leaning views, it is amazing what you learn, not least about yourself).

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Left or right

        Read a newspaper? They're even more partisan than YouTube, and proud of it.

        In the UK, one can pretty much determine a person's entire ideology by which paper they (primarily) read.

        1. PhoenixKebab

          Yes, Prime Minister

          Hacker: Don't tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads the papers. The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country; The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country; The Times is read by the people who actually do run the country; the Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country; the Financial Times is read by people who own the country; the Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country, and the Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.

          Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, what about the people who read The Sun?

          Bernard: Sun readers don't care who runs the country, as long as she's got big tits.

          1. DJO Silver badge

            Re: Yes, Prime Minister

            A few years ago there was a study of truthfulness in UK newspapers, obviously The Daily Mail was the most untruthful of the lot followed by The Express and so on.

            There was an almost linear relationship between right-left and very dishonest-slightly dishonest (none came out as paragons of honesty) but the big surprise was that the least dishonest UK paper was the Daily Mirror.

            1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

              Re: Yes, Prime Minister

              You do realise that paper was just reflecting the biases of the people who wrote it, right? Obviously the papers are all just sensational-clickbait merchants these days.

              1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

                Re: Yes, Prime Minister

                I'm pretty sure that checking on the objective truthfulness of something that has been published, and determining whether it is factually correct or not, is pretty much one of the few places where it is pretty hard for bias to come into it.

                The only way this could be biased, that I can think of, would be if there was bias in the selection of the published articles that were examined. If this source of bias wasn't eliminated early on, I can't imagine the peer review process would have passed the paper for publication.

                On the other hand, there is no verification, bias elimination, or peer review process for making claims on an internet discussion board that reinforce one's own bias, are there?

        2. graeme leggett Silver badge

          Re: Left or right

          or even

          "in the UK, one can pretty much determine a person's entire ideology _because_of_ which paper they (primarily) read"

        3. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

          Re: Left or right

          Which is why I gave up reading newspapers some years ago, the are very obvious in their leanings.

      2. Sherrie Ludwig

        Re: Left or right

        read a newspaper (better two, from different publishers with different leaning views, it is amazing what you learn, not least about yourself).

        I don't know about newspaper ownership in most other countries, but the papers in the USA are largely owned by a few megacorporations, ditto the television channels, and the radio. Harder and harder to find unbiased anything.

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: Left or right

          Despite the suppositions of some, human beings are deeply social beings. There is NO unbiased reporting, with the possible exception of a journal of mathematics.

          And I emphasize "possible exception". We have the advantage of dealing with truth in the abstract, but biases still manage to creep in.

    2. anonanonanonanonanon

      Re: Left or right

      Yet here you are posting?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Left or right

        This is YouTube?

    3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Left or right

      Never read the comments!

      Sometimes they're the best part. Otherwise the study seems to have show that the further left you drift, the further right everything appears to be. Or just how broken and annoying YT's recommendations are.

      I hate recommendations with a passion, mainly because I have no control over them. A few months ago, I made the mistake of searching for something, only to find out it was an RC racing thing. Now, probably 2/10ths of my recommendations are for RC cars, aircraft and RC related things I have zero interest in. I pick the option to 'not recommend this channel', so it recommends me a different RC one. Despite not watching any RC content, AlphaGoo won't take the hint that I'M NOT FECKING INTERESTED IN RC MODELS!

      And of course being a lefty company, it won't allow me to express my interests, because after all, it knows what's best for me.

      Sometimes it sort of works. So I stumbled on some doctors who did reaction videos to action movie scenes. Like what really happens if you get smacked over the head with a baseball bat. Or sometimes strange, disturbing and socially relevant. I don't just mean Mr Ballen, but a fascinating channel by a chap called ChubbyEmu who explains some of the strange cases that come across ER departments. That channel educated me about the perils of gas station tacos, and not trying Internet memes. Like the unfortunate chap who cooked chicken breasts in Tylenol. But I think those choices lead to one of the dark corners of the 'net. Random person reacts to random thing <shockfaceclickbait>. Which has ultimately lead to having a recommendation of a person reacting to another reaction video. That rabbit hole seems in danger of becoming recursive.

      On the politics side, I've been watching stuff we're not allowed to see or read in the UK, ie discussions about the situation in Ukraine. Recommendations stemming from that can get a bit strange, ie it'll probably try leading you to Denys Davidov, who can be... entertaining in some ways.

      1. Fr. Ted Crilly Silver badge

        Re: Left or right

        Ah yes Denys Davydov ;-) mind you, make sure it's actually his channel you are looking at, also 'Perun' worth a good long look, very careful analyses of current situation.

        Ahem, 'A different bias' ;-) ;-) ;-)

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Left or right

          Ah yes Denys Davydov ;-) mind you, make sure it's actually his channel you are looking at,

          I suspect Denys may be one of the Bbc's military experts. Or the Bbc is just similarly dishonest/deluded-

          The head of Ukraine's presidential office said Moscow was trying to intimidate residents with fake news that Ukraine's military was shelling their city. "It is a fairly primitive tactic, taking into account that the AFU [Armed Forces of Ukraine] do not shell cities," Andriy Yermak wrote on Telegram.

          I wonder if the Bbc's checked arrivals/departure at Donestk International Airport lately? The AFU's been shelling cities since 2014, and it's why it's losing more of them now. The Bbc, along with other MSM may want to wonder what the impact of their reporting of 'fake news' will be. The conflict started with trust in politics and the media being very low. It continued with demands to censor 'fake news' and disinformation. The Bbc reported Ukrainians dancing in front of the stamps comemorating the bridge suicide bombing. It was very critical after Russian media 'celebrated' the attacks on Ukraine's logistics. It praised Ukraine's lightning advances into previously occupied territory Russia withdrew from, and didn't consder it was an obvious trap. Now, it's suggesting Russia attempting to evacuate civilians from Kherson is another 'war crime'.

          If Ukraine loses around Kherson, as it has been so far, why would the Bbc think anyone would take it's reporting seriously ever again?

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            Re: Left or right

            Fuck off, Kremlinbot.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: Left or right

              Fuck off, Kremlinbot.

              Another fine product of our education system. Have you ordered Zelensky's book yet? If he keeps up with the Churchill meme, he's going to end up having to adopt Nicholas Soames.

              Strange the way the Bbc, in it's quest to remain relevant is becoming a far less reliable source than YT.

              1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

                Re: Left or right

                This is what I come here to see, troll on troll action.

                We need a popcorn icon.

      2. WolfFan

        Re: Left or right

        Why would anyone cook anything in Tylenol? What was the ‘thought process’ involved?

        I can only hope that the results were painful. Did he (it’s almost certainly a guy, girls tend to not be that particular kind of stupid) get a Darwin Award?

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Left or right

          Why would anyone cook anything in Tylenol? What was the ‘thought process’ involved?

          Video here. Like many memes that end up on YT, thought probably wasn't high on the process list.

          I can only hope that the results were painful.

          Not really something people should be hoping for, but the video makes some important points about the dangers of memes, and OTC medecines. Also from the comments on the vid-

          Just in 2014, 78,000 Americans went to the ER due to acetaminophen liver toxicity. 90% of those were because people overdosed or took it with heavy alcohol. Roughly 30,000 were hospitalized, 3,000 required liver transplants, and 300 died. Just in that one year. Respect medications, always

          YT vids can on occasion be educational.

      3. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Left or right

        I do all my YouTube watching using NewPipe particularly because of how awful the recommendations are. I watched, one rainy Sunday, a bunch of dashcam videos (or "how to swear in Russian") to pass the time. It kept on suggesting more, even though I said I wasn't interested. This mutated into bike crashes (huh?) and seems to have settled down into "let's promote superbikes for this guy". Yeah, not interested. Not a good match for me, so it's a different channel with...superbikes. FFS.

        At least with NewPipe the only recommendations are a bunch of similar things for each video.

        Note, by the way, that my account has video history disabled, so clearly that's a big pile of crap otherwise the recommendations would be generic stuff (in other words that Mr Beast person that seems to have more money than sense).

      4. Glen 1

        Re: Left or right

        Translator's note for those of us in Rightpondia:

        Tylenol is a brand of paracetamol

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Left or right

      I'd always assume that my view point was a little to the right of centre (at least in UK terms) but the current crop have moved so far over I doubt I could see them with the JWST.

  5. Lordrobot

    Oh come on Brookings is Left and the University is Left...

    So everything to them looks Right even if it were dead center.

    And for God's sake quit calling the Religious Right Conservative or Right. They are lunatics, religious Zealots practising a Middle Eastern Religion like the Taliban just drove to town in their Trump Hummers. Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thacker were real Conservatives. Reagan said the Religious Right would destroy the republican Party. In Britain, the Tories went warmonger following the Religious Right into the Middle East Abyss.

    In the 1970s there was a book published in the US called "The late great Planet Earth" It was written by a crackpot named. Hal Lindsey. It laid down the pathway for premillennial religious quackery... the Idea being that a great war would be fought in the Middle East... Russia was MAGOG and the leader of MAGOG was GOG. Hal Lindsey implied that if the Religious Right stepped it up a bit they could hasten the "END TIMES" ... of course, all the GOOD Christians would miss out on this War and TRIBULATION. They would be flown to Heaving or some holding tank leaving all the non-believers to be at war... and Jesus would come back as SEAL TEAM 6 JYSUYS and would kill everything in sight and his weapon would be his voice.

    There were some misfires... Some thought MAGOG and GOG were Saddam Hussain. And Hal got the end of the world wrong as did his disciple Pat Robertson.

    This isn't a religion it is just warmongering on a colossal scale. And who was Trump... the anointed one. They thought Trump was the resurrection of King Cyrus and would come to build the Third Temple on the Mount. After all, Trump said he was a builder. What's the difference... Temple or Casinos, both make money... UNLESS YOU ARE TRUMP.

    This is Murica with nukes. Estimates are Bush killed 2 million Middle Easterners. Just want to puke when you look at what the USA has become. And there is Britain, like some junior punk greaser in training following the hood to the bridge for some smokes [can't use the British term anymore F^**s.] This is not the Republican or Tory party of the past. This is an insane asylum. The Republican Party was always pro-choice for women, always for free trade, anti-union, separation of Church and state, and anti-slavery, low taxes, small gov. balanced budgets and no debt. The modern Republican party has its roots in the George Wallace pro-segregation party. Republicans are anything but the Party of Lincoln. They are the Evangelical Nutjob party. Dems have become the WOKE party of weirdness. Transgenderism, affirmative action, Diversity regulation, class warfare, handouts, eviction moratoriums [trump started that gem]. Both parties soaring debt and NEOCON WARMONGERING.

    So when you look left or look right you just want to puke. COVID is not the pandemic... Insanity is the Pandemic.

    1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

      Re: Oh come on Brookings is Left and the University is Left...

      Man, I thought you were channeling AManFromMars in church at first, but then I realized the last three paragraphs make sense. Well played, sir.

  6. silent_count

    So lemme see. Leftie researchers discover that everything not written by Karl Marx is rightie biased. Would that be about it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, pretty much. How dare they allow access to content with differing political opinions!!

  7. ChrisLaarman


    Yes, thank you, but the article suggests that the research was done among American viewers - while YouTube is an international medium. Moreover, the political side of society is just one topic - however important or just interesting.

    By the way, I (Dutchman in the Netherlands, using a single YouTube account) have noticed that my kitchen device recommends other videos than my living-room device. (I did so when I wanted to watch a recommendation on the one device on the other, then had to search for it.)

    Finally, the recommendations may be "inspired" by one's profile. I have a Google Advertising Profile (or whatever its name) - but the other year, YouTube reported it switched off. (I did contact Support, but that decimated my esteem of Alphabet.) Anyway, certain properties of your possessions and interests may well correlate with your voting behavior.

  8. Dinanziame Silver badge

    Worth noting the dates

    The study was from October to December 2020, which includes the day of the presidential election, and the subsequent screaming about stopping the count, voter fraud, etc. Essentially the most polarizing event in recent years.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Worth noting the dates

      Essentially the most polarizing event in recent years.

      You ain't seen nothing yet. Just wait for the election deniers after Nov 8th. When they don't win, they will revolt (in soft focus like Kari Lake) and refuse to accept the will of the people.

      If you are not wearing your 'made in China' MAGA hat then watch out.. You are a target for the loonies.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Worth noting the dates

        Cos the dems have NEVER claimed an election was stolen or that there was fraud in the past... oh wait, 2000, 2004, 2016...

        Didn't they riot and set fire to DC after the orange man was elected?

        And in the run up to 2020 a number of high up dems were making claims that the voting machines were insecure.

        The 'will of the people' according to the establishment is 'we get our way, how dare you threaten our power and source of free money'.

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Worth noting the dates

          Didn't they riot and set fire to DC after the orange man was elected?

          No. No they did not.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Worth noting the dates

            Hmm... news footage says otherwise.


            Maybe its time to get out of the echo chamber.

            1. ecofeco Silver badge

              Re: Worth noting the dates

              Yes, it's obvious burning a few trash cans and protesting is just like invading the capital building and killing cops.

              Exactly the same.


              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Worth noting the dates

                They were burning cars and smashing up shops. That is just random destruction.

                Taking the protest to the capitol was the right thing to do and they were let in by security while being encouraged by the feds. There was no invasion. That is political theatre.

                1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                  Re: Worth noting the dates

                  Fuck off, Kremlinbot.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Worth noting the dates

                    Truth hurts, eh?

              2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Re: Worth noting the dates

                Yes, it's obvious burning a few trash cans and protesting is just like invading the capital building and killing cops.

                No cops were killed during the Capitol building trespass. But a handy resource for you here-


                Comparing Nancy Pelosi's security failure to CNN's 'fiery, but mostly peaceful' protests. It's also an area where the effects on the US have been ongoing, ie the Dem's soft touch and demands to defund the police has lead to increasing crime in many Democrat lead cities. That's resulted in the deaths of many citizens and law enforcement officers. But for the likes of Pelosi, responsible for the Capitol building's security, the only 'criminal' worth convicting is one Donald J. Trump. Harris, of course supported the non-Jan 6th insurrectionists, in between working on her lasting and enduring alliance with N.Korea.

                November looks like it's going to get interesting in the US.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Worth noting the dates

                  Ah the dem cities and their defund the police activist politicians...


                  So she took protesters to the then mayors house who then proceeded to damage it and now the same happens to her and suddenly it is bad.

          2. MrZoolook

            Re: Worth noting the dates

            Yes, they did.

          3. The Axe

            Re: Worth noting the dates

            DC had a few fires. But Seattle and Portland have been systematically destroyed.

            1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

              Re: Worth noting the dates

              Yes, it's true. Seattle and Portland are nothing but smoking rubble.

              1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

                Re: Worth noting the dates

                I heard you can go on a guided helicopter tour over the massive crater where Portland once stood. They're calling it the Oregon smoke-hole, or "the big anus".

                No, wait, I just made that up, didn't I? Thankfully, most people can tell the difference between obvious bullshit and demonstrable fact, but sadly not all, and that minority does appear to be alarmingly large, if the keyboard warriors and MAGA hat wearers are anything to go by.

  9. ChrisBedford

    Yah well, not in my experience.

    I get hardly any conservative recommendations.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yah well, not in my experience.

      lucky you,

      It keeps reccomending right wing nutters

  10. lglethal Silver badge

    Excellent Mental image

    "No one at YouTube or Google was able to respond to the CSMP study's findings"

    I'm getting an image of all the people in the You Tubes press room being tied up and held at gun point or something similar which might prevent them from being "able" to respond. Or perhaps, they're all sitting there trying to work out what the big words in the study mean, (kids with crayons in hand is the mental image that comes to mind, but that's usually marketing rather than PR).

    Although I'm pretty certain you just mean that there was nobody "available" to respond....

  11. anonanonanonanonanon

    I find it mostly recommends vids with thumbnails of some youtuber making a funny face and pointing at something with a clickbaity title.

    Except if I accidentally wath something about guns, then my feed is ll guns, youtube loves guns

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      The YT algorithm vastly out-recommending thumbnails with a wacky face and clickbaity titles is a well documented fact by this point. Plenty of youtube video's about it too. You CAN break through this though, I hardly get any clickbaity titles with stupid thumbnails because (by-and-large) I ignore them at all times.

      As to the gun thing, it seems that YouTube tried something silly like screening off anything gun related into a separate bubble, but the end effect of that is that once you (or the algorithm) accidentally stumble over the (very low) garden fence and into the moat around the pit, you're suddenly trapped in there.

  12. anonanonanonanonanon

    This study may be bunk, but I find in general the whole idea that "conservative voices are being censored" is absolute crap, They're just trying to play victim. Anyone who gets kicked off the bigger platforms for their "conservative opinion" will never say exactly what that opinion was, it must always remain the general "conservative opinion"

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Maybe more centrist conservatives need to come up with a new term for their beliefs because at the moment any time you hear someone mention "conservative opinion" or "conservative voices", etc., they're basically espousing some radical bollocks conspiracy theory that I doubt the majority in the middle believe in.

      Maybe they can rename themselves "traditionalists", "off centrists", "relatively normalists" (ok that last one was a joke, but you get the idea), and let the conservative term disappear off into the radical distance.

      Anytime you hear some American say "I am a conservative", you cant help but wonder which particular wacky conspiracy theory they adhere to, which is probably unfair to the majority, but is definitely the way the language has evolved at the moment...

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Indeed, have you ever noticed that the complaints about them being silenced tend to be on the front pages of major newspapers.

      1. Jedit Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        You're not the first person to notice this.

        Meanwhile, back on the subject of YouTube recommends: they're constantly putting Jordan Peterson videos in my recs despite me not watching any kind of political content on the platform. They evidently have a reason to push Benzo Boy on the user base, although I can't tell you whether it's internal political bias or just plain old fashioned money.

    3. Franco

      Prime examples of late with the "anti-growth coalition" and the "tofu eating wokerati" comments, both aren't really directed at anti-Conservative voices, just people who don't agree with them which includes many within their own party these days.

      Why else would John Cleese join GB News claiming to have been "de-platformed"?

  13. imanidiot Silver badge

    I'm unclear on the exact methodology used from the article and I can't be arsed to read the entire actual paper but I see some enormous glaring holes in this study. Enough to make me consider it utter bunk.

    It already starts at their subject group: "1,063 adult Americans, recruited via Facebook ads" --> All facebook users, all americans, with seemingly no check on their political affiliation, nor a check on how long they've had their google ad-sense profile for instance, and the sort of people that would notice and respond to an ad on top of that = Holy selection bias Batman!

    The research method is also utter crap. They start on a random video and basically have the user select a random recommended video. That's not how the algorithm and human users work though. You start at a video that for some reason drew your interest and you keep clicking on the video that draws the most interest. This will already give a very different response and input to the algorithm than this random clicking would and I strongly suspect it would re-enforce the ideological leaning/echo chamber effect tremendously.

    Put on top of that the simple fact that the researchers themselves determine what is left- or right-leaning with an opaque "new methodology" based on smegging REDDIT!!! (from the paper: "Specifically, we use the observed behavior of sharing YouTube videos in the domain of ideological subreddits to calculate each video’s ideology that appears on Reddit. This set of more than 50,000 videos with an ideology score are then used as training data for a natural language classifier, which is then used to predict the ideology of any video on YouTube.) And people wonder why proper engineers laugh at the social "sciences".

    This is imho utter garbage and it is my opinion the Reg should be ashamed of publishing such an uncritical article on it.

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge

      You're being overly critical.

      Google adsense profiles can be worked around. New Google accounts, clearing cache & cookies and using a vpn will screw with location targeting and user fingerprints. You can give Google a blank slate to work from if you're happy to work with setting up a lot of profiles and ip addresses.

      Random selection removes user bias, assuming the researcher is following the instructions correctly. They specifically target the top 4 or 5 videos (can't remember the number from the article) as those are the ones that YT will be most confident of you clicking on. The algorithm will assume that the user is clicking on those videos out of genuine interest and attempt to serve the user's interest.

      Finally, using subreddits isn't a bad idea. There are subreddits with explicit political leanings and subreddits with implicit political leanings. The ML stuff is what I'm least confident about but the idea in general isn't terrible (and I'd love to see your bright idea on something this charged and subjective).

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        "using subreddits isn't a bad idea. There are subreddits with explicit political leanings and subreddits with implicit political leanings"

        It's a terrible idea, because Reddit is full of people pretending to be one thing while recruiting for an extremist ideology at the other end of the spectrum.

      2. imanidiot Silver badge

        Unless I missed it skimming the paper, I see no mention of any of these measures being taken. It's unclear if and how previous video watching history would impact the skew of videos, nor if there was any attempt to mitigate this.

        The whole point about echo chambers is that selection bias is the whole thing about having an echo chamber. People aren't random, the normal function of the algorithm and it's relation to any echo chamber effect. Putting any conclusion on this is pointless exactly BECAUSE there is no selection bias at all to feed the algorithm one way or the other. 20 videos is probably not enough (especially on a "fresh" adsense account) for the algorithm to do much else but show random videos so ofcourse any "skew" is going to be limited.

        Using Reddit for nearly anything is a terrible idea, using it for anything political doubly so. The place is a shitshow and a cesspool on all sides and it's so full of trolls it's often harder to distinguish the real posts from the shit-posting and trolling than on even 4chan.

        As for my bright idea for these researchers, go and learn a real area of science and get a proper job. Social "sciences" very very very rarely actually science. There is no way to research this objectively and scientifically.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "You start at a video that for some reason drew your interest and you keep clicking on the video that draws the most interest."

      Which is totally irrelevant when you analyze *what is offered*. So you don't understand what was analyzed and why. Meaningless comment.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        It's relevant to what will be offered. If you want to see whether you get echo chambers, you want to see how likely they are to offer you something that isn't in line with the belief you had before. Clicking on things at random won't tell you this, because you won't have established any interest for them to uphold or subvert.

        I get the idea: they probably want to disprove the mantra that there's a conspiracy to deplatform certain views, which we know isn't true. They may even want to collect more data to demonstrate how YouTube's algorithm finds what to suggest. However, by having the participants choose videos at random, it makes it rather hard to decide how that decision is related to what you've watched. For example, if we assume a clear left-right scale from 0% at far left and 100% at far right, then if I randomly watch a 27%, 89%, 62%, 2%, and six apolitical videos in my first ten, what should I expect the political content of the recommendations to be? Basically anything they show me now can be seen as supporting an interest in something I already watched or being opposite of it. I'm afraid the methodology of this study leaves many doubts that it has proven anything, even excluding subjective things like how left/right is this video.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is all a conspiracy I tell you...

    Not only does YouTube recommend right-wing vids but there is also a concerted campaign from right-wingers to ban progressives from social media.

    Jessie Dollemore and David Packman are just two who have recently been banned from TikTok. Others have been thrown off Twitter and can't find out why their posts which are often commentary on other posts on the same platform are regarded as evil

    With 'Ye' buying Parler because he was banned from Twitter for an anti-semitic rant, and Elon buying Twitter and Donald in charge of Truth Social (soon to die so good riddance to him) the right in America is becoming more and more influential, especially with the platforms that the 15-30 age group use.

    This is not good for democracy in the USA but there again, the MAGA plan is to make DJT president for life and do away with any form of voting and accountability.

    This article here is just the tip of the iceberg. MSM in the USA is either cuddling up to MAGA or not reporting the bad stuff going on with MAGA goofballs like Dr Oz or Herschel Walker.

    The USA is fast becoming a fascist state. Get used to it people. If DJT gets into the White House in 2025, he'll take the USA out of NATO just to please his pals Putin and Kim Jong.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Study finds that recommendation engines recommend things that other users recommended

    This study is hardly news to anyone who's ever used you tube for more than 5 minutes. If you watch angry political rants, it will recommend more angry political rants. If you watch origami videos, I guess you'll be forced down a rabbit hole featuring lots of paper swans. I use it to find music I've not heard that's listened to by people who like stuff that I like, and it's helped me discover lots of brilliant stuff.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Study finds that recommendation engines recommend things that other users recommended

      " If you watch angry political rants, it will recommend more angry political rants."

      That's not a problem, the problem is that it recommends right wing nutjob political rants if I watch f***ng snow plow videos. Instead of suggesting more snow plow videos. Always right wing nutjobs.

      Just because someone in YT decided those are 'popular'. Regardless of what they actually are: Put them into recommendations to everyone because master said so. Them being meaningless to me is irrelevant.

      See the problem here?

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Study finds that recommendation engines recommend things that other users recommended

        I've rarely encountered right wing nutjob video's and I certainly don't get them recommended to me all that often. Which leads me to think you watch other content other than snow plow videos that might lead YouTube to believe you're interested in listening to right wing nutjobs (Also depends on your view of what is a right wing nutjob).

  16. Pirate Dave Silver badge

    "CSMP studied the effects of YouTube recommendations by getting 1,063 adult Americans, recruited via Facebook ads."

    I think I see the initial problem right there - "recruited via Facebook ads". So not only was the pool of participants limited to Facebook users, but it was further restricted to those users who were dim-witted enough to actually click on an ad in Facebook. Probably the same subset of the population that always has to open every single email they receive, and then open any and all attachments, and will freely give up their login creds to any scam website that even remotely looks like the Office365 login page.

    Other problems with the study aside, the selection process itself seems suspect.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Actually it's not clear why they bothered to select anyone at all. Either their methodology is independent of the biases of the end-user, in which case they could have trained a computer to do it several thousand times, or it isn't, in which case the study is not actually testing YT's algorithm.

  17. Zenubi

    I block based on keywords

    I have a nice browser extension that lets me block YT clips based on title keywords. It can do RegEx too. (BlockTube)

    Thus I never see clips with words such as { insane, sick, unboxing, cat, dog, kitten, puppy, awesome, crazy} etc in there titles.

    Works well but what I really want is a filter to remove clips with people wearing baseball caps* back to front - I would then be spared an even greater deal of dumbness. I know I don't have to click on these clips of course but just seeing people like this makes me grrrrr.

    * Where do they buy those hats anyway? I can only see the normal facing ones when I looked on Amazon. ( I wanted to see what else people who bought these bought)

    I know that this extension can see what I'm looking at but that ship sailed long ago and I don't care.

    1. robinsonb5

      Re: I block based on keywords

      What I want is for reloading the home screen to show me a *different* set of suggested videos, not the same ones in a slightly different order.

      You'd have thought a platform which receives something like 500 hours of new video every minute could be a bit more imaginitive in its suggestions...

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: I block based on keywords

        This. I get the same suggested videos over and over and over. Even when I click on "new random."

        YouTube is a broken mess.

        Unless I specifically search for something, it's almost useless these days.

  18. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

    Found the trick

    "The team scored the ideological view of each vid"

    This is obviously subjective, and they have obviously not managed to exclude their personal biases. That is the null hypothesis even where results aren't contrary to common sense. Garbage in, stupid methodology, desired result out. It ain't science.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Found the trick

      No, you haven't.

      Even if they were very biased in what they thought was 'left' or 'right', if they find that the material then shifts further in one direction than another, that observation still holds true even if starting from the 'wrong' point.

      And I would love to know why you think they have 'obviously not managed to exclude their personal biases' based on what we all read in that article.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Found the trick

        Umm, perhaps because they scored each vid according to their own biases. Or at least, that's what they said they did.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > it's a conservative talking-point that right-wing views are routinely unfairly censored [which] may be because conservative political communication gets seen and flagged as misinformation more often than the opposition messaging

    Or it may be because they constantly rely on positioning themselves as the oppressed group, regardless of whether or not the evidence shows that's actually the case. (À la fundamentalist Christians in the US, despite their belonging to the overwhelmingly dominant religion there).

  20. Shalghar Bronze badge

    So basically bingewatchers get the binge ?

    I confess to use yucktube but i also confess to ignore their generated play next lists, except for tech channels, DIY channels or "worst/best" lists whenever i feel the need for useless background noise.

    Normal use case however is directly searching for something, then looking at the "results" and maybe hop one or two vids in the then generated list.

    Yes, yucktube has developed some kind of weird "repeat until vomit bag full/switched off" in my case, which may or may not have to do with the fact that in the few cases i actually search for something political, i always try to find vids of the two major sides as well as some not too polarized (or much more disinterested) sources.

    When that happens i also limit that activity to a maximum of three vids or 20 minutes per side, whatever limit is reached first so "the algorythm" might have some problems with my viewing behaviour.

    Even more so as i tend to view political vids in very unregular intervals, usually every one or two months or so, with the other topics in no specific order in between.

    I can understand that "the algorythm" tries to serve whats calculated to let the user stay online. Wether this is actually doing more or less harm may be up to debate, after all we are not (yet) living in a "max headroom" TV state where its illegal to switch off or even turn the volume below the state mandated level.

  21. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

    Good or Bad

    If you do something evil or good you will have a greater chance of doing more of the same, so much like youtube recommendations. Nothing new there.

    Then again, it was also said that improved communications tends to lead to greater and improved errors. If only on the basis that a lie spreads around the world faster than the truth can get its boots on

    Anything / any person who proposes/supports harming anyone else should be ignored at worst and be considered suspicious at all times. Most coercian is evil etc. etc etc

    So, I do not use YouTube/Twitter etc

  22. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

    Preconceived NOtions

    Why would anyone believe a study that so obviously has a preconceived outcome.

  23. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Translation for Europeans:

    US left = center

    US conservative= far right if not outright fascist.

    == Bring us Dabbsy back! ==

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge

      I've always understood that the US dems are basically a bit right of the UK tories (although this was how it was explained to me as a nipper, 15-20 years ago).

      I've also always understood that the GOP are mad, but the last 6 years or so have shown me that I didn't actually understand how mad.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Effectively the establishment dems and gop are the same. Big gov, big corruption etc. They LOVE money and oh boy do they LOOOOOVE power. Neither really fit into the classic left/right. It is a one party system with a thin layer of 'democracy' painted on top to make the populace feel like they are in control.

        Neither party will fix anything as it gives them something to run on. In 2008 Obama promised to put roe v wade into proper law. He had the house and senate for a good time and did nothing. A whole slew of things he promised just got dropped after 2008. All they do is undo a few things the previous party has done to keep people riled up to keep up the illusion of a two party system. Biden has both the house and senate (for now) and could have done something with roe v wade but didn't.

        The 'activist' dems and gops are really just establishment under the skin. The old guard quickly bring them in line.

        Remember all the defund the police? Now its fund the police. Green energy? They are building a pipeline for fracked gas in WV.

        It is all smoke and mirrors.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "In 2008 Obama promised to put roe v wade into proper law. He had the house and senate for a good time and did nothing."

          Which is blatant lie, he didn't. Anyone claiming so is lying and now the question: Why do you lie about it? Who pays it?

          Democrats had it *only* on paper, because two or more "democrats" mostly voted against Obama on everything as they were paid to do so. And everyone, except you, knows this.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward



            " on July 17, 2007, Obama declared, "The first thing I'd do, as president, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That's the first thing that I'd do.""


            1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

              Yeah, pretty sure he was prevented from doing that by the lack of a majority in the senate. Some guy called Dick...

      2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        These days the whole damn lot of them are nuttier than macaroons.

        Ultimately all US politics is xenophobic, protectionist lunacy. The flavours of social liberalism or otherwise are really just a thin coating over the fundamental insanity.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Conservapedia describes the current UK government as center-left. I think you've underestimated just how far things are offset!

  24. pimppetgaeghsr

    It's profitable. The left get outraged and keep engaging, and the right get their echo chamber and beliefs validated to them and keep engaging.

  25. dcpiccolo

    Does the study consider that conservativism is simply on the rise? The new-right is a big tent movement, and that tent now contains classical liberals, therefore there is just more "conservative" content in general.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think that is what scares people. That classical liberals are now small c conservative. Individual rights, small govt etc.

      Someone mentioned a few weeks ago in another reg thread the 'crunchy to alt-right pipeline' where the old school hippy earth mother types are now classed as alt-right due to their views on pharma and vaxx.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        " the old school hippy earth mother types are now classed as alt-right due to their views on pharma and vaxx"

        They've always been closer to what is now called alt-right.

      2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        I think that is what scares people. That classical liberals are now small c conservative. Individual rights, small govt etc.

        I think it scares some people. Mostly the ones with the most extreme progressive (or regressive) views. Biden gave a speech promising to bring back Roe v Wade as his top priority. Polls show American's top priorities are the economy, crime and reproductive rights are pretty low on their list. Biden may have gotten thumbs up from a vocal minority, but that might not affect the election results. Even within one simple, single issue there are diverse opinions. Most countries that permit abortions have term limits, ie up to X weeks. Some pro-abortion campaigners seem to want abortion permitted right up to the point of delivery. If you disagree, then obviously you're a far-right mysoginist, facist and probably racist as well.

        One of the strange things about modern progressives is if you disagree with their demands, you must be a facist. Yet facism is typically defined by authoritarianism. Progressives generally demand that other people do what they want. Wear masks, don't eat meat, buy EVs. They're not authoritarian facists though because the definitions have been changed to suggest that facism is only a right-wing thing. Same with using other lables like 'nazi'. Hitler was a keen vegetarian and environmentalist who's Mein Kampf showed he wanted much the same as our Green blob. That doesn't make Greens nazis, it's just they share some of the same ideologies... and authoritarian tendencies.

        It's also why I dislike politics tendencies to try and cram people into neat little boxes, which is again something the Nazi's did. It's especially problematic in pretty much 2-party systems like the US or UK where we're forced to vote for package deals. I'm mostly libertarian by nature, but people on the far-left consider me far-right. But we can rarely vote based on specific policies, even though technology should make that easier in a democracy.

        We're living in interesting times though when a fairly 'progressive' politician like Obama comes out and tries to warn the Dems that perhaps they've gone too far in pandering to the 'woke' mob. November may show if he's right, or our society may end up becoming even more divisive.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          We are very much living in the 1984 ministry of truth world. When Amy Coney Barret (and no, I don't like her!! Very bad pick for SCOTUS as was Bret) used a term the progressives didn't like they quickly edited the webster dictionary page to try and show that it was always that way. Same goes on with Wikipedia. Only recently have certain groups become 'right wing' including a certain group started in the south by democrats. How they can spin that one amazes me.

          The same has just happened with the covid vaxx and the revelation of just how little testing they did. Now all the rabid pro-vaxx people are saying 'we knew it didn't stop infection or transmission, stop lying!' yet we have many many TV recordings, twitter posts, media coverage etc. of people saying that it does stop infection and transmission. Including the head of Pfizer and the POTUS.

          And someone in this thread claims Obama didn't promise to put roe v wade into law if he became president. Which is false as there is video evidence of him saying it and even a wikipedia page with his direct quote.

          Just remember that the chocolate ration has increased this week.

          US progressives are nothing of the sort. A wonderful comment was that they would like to set SF in amber to preserve it just the way they remember and like it. Nothing can change.

          We also have utter corruption like this:

          As for abortion, the US media forget that even after roe v wade was overturned (and even the mighty RBG said it was bad law) the US still has more liberal abortion laws than most of Europe. The reason the 10 year old girl had to go out of state is because they would not admit to the relevant authorities that it had been rape and the person who did it was the mother's boyfriend. That detail was left out of the initial reporting.....

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            Fuck off, Kremlinbot.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              C'mon man, you can do better than that!

  26. jollyboyspecial

    Are they maybe using different algorithms in different territories?

    I ask because I never seem to get "conservative" videos recommended to me

  27. Trigun

    Interesting timing

    All social media tends to skew one way or another. I tend to think of youtube as centre/centre-right due to the content and reddit/twitter as centre to hard left. It's not absolute of course - I'm speaking in general trends as I see it. And it's going to happen as they can and do all function as echo chambers.

    What I am interested in is the timing of this "study". Almost as if something else involving another platform might have prompted it. Almost as if someone somewhere is concerned that the left leaning media are perhaps losing a little ground. Generally speaking nothing wrong with that as long as it hovers in the centre and doesn't go full on right-wing as much as it's been left wing in recent years.

    Lastly: The title of this article seems a bit off, as if all youtube video are (queue the german accent) "You *vill* vatch ze right-wing video!" When of course that's not at all the case.

    Ok, ok, that might be a over the top, but article titles can sometimes indicate the tone (and sometimes bias) of a piece.

  28. Spoonsinger

    Egg Slop Recipies - My Family Eats This Five Times A Week!

    Personally can't determine if these recommendations are either left or right. Do get quite a few and not really an egg person.

  29. rodlee

    What's even worse..

    Is The Register nudging me back into political stuff when I just want to get away from it for a while!

  30. Snowy Silver badge

    They do it

    because it works, the same way clickbait does.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    USA is a fascist country

    ""We also find that, on average, the YouTube recommendation algorithm pulls users slightly to the right of the political spectrum, which we believe is a novel finding.""

    Of course it is: See who owns it.

    YT is just like any other media nowadays: It exists solely to push owners views to the world.

    Also 'slightly to the right' happens only in USA scale of 'right'. That means literal fascist in everywhere else, except possibly UK: "Slightly like Truss".

    USA Democrats would be firmly a conservative right wing party in most other countries and anything called 'left' is totally missing. There's only right wing, even more right wing and proper fascists. Nothing else.

  32. uncredited

    Not just your views

    The study seems to have one fundamentally wrong assumption, that the recommendations are only based on what the user views. If that were the case a new user with fresh account that watches one video of a cat would only be recommended cat videos after the first video but that's not what happens.

    Google has said that there are multiple factors that are in play, among them is "engagement", which they seem to mean how many users "comment" or "like" videos and based on other studies and content creator's own experiences, "right-wing content" generates more engagement.

    Popularity in your region also weighs in heavily, Youtube recommends to me a ridiculous amount of "life-style(*) videos" from the country I live in, even though I systematically ask not to be recommended any of these channels.

    (*) Life style - as in "hey, see how much I drank yesterday while wearing the clothes I was given as an advertisement"

  33. that one in the corner Silver badge


    IIRC back in 2020 following the chain of recommended videos inevitably led you to anti-vaxx and/or flat-earth loonies.

    Or maybe that was only my "personalized" feed?

  34. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    I'm not going to comment on how the study rated content as such, but I suspect the real reason is simple. Youtube wants people to engage with videos. In my own experience, some people on the left might produce a video that gets a few hundred comments. Some people on the right produce videos that get hundreds of right wingers commenting, then hundreds of left wingers commenting on the comments, with the right wingers answering back.. All of a sudden, a video that might have got a few hundred views, and a few dozen comments has 10s of thousands of views, and 10s of thousands of comments. The algorithm will favour these videos because they get people involved.

    This isn't a comment that the left don't produce good videos. They do. But it seems, in experience at least, that the left are far more likely to look at a right wing video and interact with it than the right are likely to do with a left wing video.

    I think this is why the likes of Truth Social, Gab and Parler have failed. The left wingers avoid these places, and a lot of right wingers who post do so to provoke a reaction. As they aren't getting the reaction they want, they lose interest.

    In short, these people often post because they want a fight. When they don't get one, they lose interest. The Algorithm probably doesn't care about the politics, it just wants people to watch the video and interact with it.

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