A Longitudinal Analysis of YouTube's Promotion of Conspiracy Videos

Conspiracy theories have flourished on social media, raising concerns that such content is fueling the spread of disinformation, supporting extremist ideologies, and in some cases, leading to violence. Under increased scrutiny and pressure from legislators and the public, YouTube announced efforts to change their recommendation algorithms so that the most egregious conspiracy videos are demoted and demonetized... To verify this claim, we have developed a classifier for automatically determining if a video is conspiratorial (e.g., the moon landing was faked, the pyramids of Giza were built by aliens, end of the world prophecies, etc.). We coupled this classifier with an emulation of YouTube's watch-next algorithm on more than a thousand popular informational channels to obtain a year-long picture of the videos actively promoted by YouTube. We also obtained trends of the so-called filter-bubble effect for conspiracy theories. read more

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