The world’s largest video hosting service is fighting off criticism – let’s discuss how this process is progressing

The platform, which has opened the world to tens of thousands of bloggers, journalists, developers, scientists, filmmakers and content makers over the past year, has not been criticized only by the lazy. Each of them had their own reasons for harsh assessments, but it should be admitted that YouTube was trying to answer.

We will discuss what is happening with the platform, how service representatives react to criticism of recommendation systems, and what they offer to outraged experts and the public.

Photo: Ali Saadat.  Source:
Photo: Ali Saadat. Source:

What’s happening

There are different points of view on how things are with the quality of recommendation systems of large video hosting sites. Some believe that sites like YouTube help find really useful content among hundreds of thousands of videos on programming, educational and scientific disciplines. Others have to hold back every time so as not to accidentally turn on a video about conspiracy theories and ruin their “recommendatory portrait”. Still others are already accustomed to regularly cleaning their browsing history, watching videos in “private browsing” mode and using ad blockers that allow hiding sections with related recommendations.

Another thing is that platforms rarely react to such criticism and, as they say, continue to bend their line. This often results in quite ridiculous conflicts not only on the basis of “feature requests”, but also banal tightening of the screws. So, in a year when many musicians were forced to stay at home and try to earn at least something online, large social networks decided to introduce new rules for the use of audio tracks in commercials. Of course, this led to unreasonable blocking. But this time, the public anger bypassed YouTube, which adopted similar edits to the user agreement much earlier than Facebook and Twitch, plus – immediately provided content makers with access to an open music library

However, high-profile scandals involving neighbors in the video streaming market did not attract public attention. It got to the point that Mozilla got interested in complaints about the issuance of the YouTube recommendation engine, but this time the company decided not to limit itself a selection of files and developed expansion for reporting strange recommendations. Given the complex epidemiological situation that has spawned not only new conspiracy theories, but many other categories of YouTube black hole videos, such a Regret Reporter can really help improve the situation on the site. At a minimum, Mozilla plans to provide YouTube with a report on the interim results of collecting feedback.

Response actions

The platform’s management was likely well aware of the level of user frustration, and was probably not caught off guard by the Mozilla initiative. In response to criticism YouTube continued to adhere to its own tactic – to release targeted updates for authors like a special metric [Revenue per mille, отражает доход на тысячу показов рекламы после вычетов площадки], presumably to increase the level of transparency in the relationship with users. And then – began a little more active sort out with “unwanted” content and even introduced automatic pre-moderation of comments.

Photo: Taras Chernus.  Source:
Photo: Taras Chernus. Source:

This year simply could not do without political scandals, pressure from regulators from different countries and criticism of the actions of the platform during and after the completion of the US presidential elections. Obviously, representatives of the platform had to devote a significant amount of time and effort to regulating these processes. This may be why they focused on local updates and were unable to answer numerous questions about how recommender systems work.

Behind the smoke screen

While other social networks – Facebook, Instagram and TikTok – shared, though general, but still details about the work of their recommendation engines, large video hosting sites preferred not to change their tactics. Users left alone with a problem and old ways fight against it, were forced to seek their own solutions. They began to offer alternatives to the current recommendation algorithm and more often enjoy services like PeerTube at least to duplicate new videos there, published on their own YT channels.

Will the site be able to do without public discussion of the principles of content filtering and will it withstand a barrage of criticism and questions from specialized organizations? [вроде EFF], regulators and audiences, the near future will show. We will continue to analyze the course of events related to this content platform and share significant moments with you.

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