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EE380 Computer Systems Colloquium presents "Algorithmic Extremism: Examining YouTube's Rabbit Hole of Radicalization"

Algorithmic Extremism: Examining YouTube's Rabbit Hole of Radicalization
Wednesday, January 8, 2020 - 4:30pm
Shriram 104
Mr. Mark Ledwich (Data Engineer and Amateur Researcher)
Abstract / Description: 

YouTube's recommendation algorithm is frequently characterized by journalists and researchers as radicalizing users to the far-right, but the evidence to date has been weak. We used data collected from the YouTube website to analyze the balance in recommendation impressions to see if it is favoring more extreme content. 768 US political channels were categorized into culturally relevant orientations and sub-cultures and 23M recommendations for recent videos were recorded during November-December 2019. We found that the late 2019 recommendation algorithm actively discourages viewers from being presented with fringe content. The algorithm is shown to favor mainstream media and cable news content over independent YouTube channels with a slant towards partisan political channels like Fox News and Last Week Tonight


Mark Ledwich is a software engineer specializing in data engineering and visualization with an interest in open science. He decided to build after noticing Google's lack of transparency about their recommendation system and the uninformed narratives created by some researchers and media. he as enjoyed my short experience performing independent research and am surprised at the level of interest it has received. He created open-sourced and the data in the hope it will be a non-trivial contribution to public knowledge.