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YouTube 'still recommends videos similar to disliked content'

YouTube still recommends videos similar to content users have 'disliked', researchers claim.

A new study from Mozilla - the developer behind Firebox - has revealed the video platforms's moderation tools still result in "bad recommendations", despite the use of the Dislike button, Don't Recommend Channel feature and being able to remove videos from your history.

For the study, Mozilla researchers used volunteers who used RegretsReporter, which is a browsers add-on overlaying a general "stop recommending” button to YouTube videos.

Users were randomly assigned a group, with different signals sent to YouTube depending on what button they clicked.

With data collected from over 500 million recommended videos, over 44,000 pairs of videos were created - including one "rejected" clip, and another recommended by YouTube.

These were then assessed either via researchers or machine learning to figure out if the recommdended video was too similar to the one that got rejected.

While 'dislike' and 'not interested' signals were only rated as "marginally effective" with preventing just 12 or 11% of bad recommendations, the "don't recommend channel" and "remove from history" options prevented 43 and 23% respectively.

The researchers said: "YouTube should respect the feedback users share about their experience, treating them as meaningful signals about how people want to spend their time on the platform."

In response, YouTube spokesperson Elena Hernandez told The Verge: "Importantly, our controls do not filter out entire topics or viewpoints, as this could have negative effects for viewers, like creating echo chambers.

“We welcome academic research on our platform, which is why we recently expanded Data API access through our YouTube Researcher Program.

"Mozilla’s report doesn’t take into account how our systems actually work, and therefore it’s difficult for us to glean many insights.”

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