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Thread: Extremism in feeds. Why?

  1. #1
    Storage? I am Storage! Tannin's Avatar
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    Extremism in feeds. Why?

    This is really weird. In fact, it brings out the paranoid conspiracy theorist in me. I can't find any rational explanation for it.

    Over the last month or so, Youtube has started throwing up right-wing extremist and similar sites in my feed. All the time. Along with my normal Youtube stuff - engineering, quantum physics, chemistry, raising chickens, plastering, woodworking, heavy machinery, fruit tree grafting, funny stuff, history, cooking, tow-truck operation, aeroplanes, welding, astronomy, mining technology, maths, and whatever other fad I happen to be on at the moment - I'm suddenly getting constantly bombarded with:

    1: News channels. These aren't just random news channels, they are nearly (but not quite) all extremist ones starting with Fox and heading right from there. They are also about 95% American, which is crazy as I have never been to the USA, don't ever want to go there, dislike Americans (other than your good selves, of course), and have little knowledge of US domestic politics and even less interest in it. And why this huge preponderance of right to extreme right channels? I sit on the left as a rule (generally mid-left, neither centre nor far) but have a broad range of views and vote with the right on a number of particular issues. Presumably Google has figured that out long since - let's face it, Google undoubtedly knows my age, sex, shoe size, dick size, shopping habits, address, politics, everything. That's what Google does. It's very good at it.

    2: Strong through to extremist anti-feminist, anti-Muslim, anti-immigration channels, plus weirdo "men's rights" channels, very often talking about Jordan Peterson (in whom I have no interest either way). Again, this is weird as I'm broadly pro-feminist, but anti-third-wave (nutcase) feminist, am anti-Muslim only to the extent that I'm against all cruel and hateful religions (including fundamentalist Christianity out of the US Bible Belt, which is every bit as bad as anything in Rydia, and fundamentalist Hinduism which is doing very bad things in southern Asia). Plus I like immigrants as a rule, though I admit that there are too many of them in some places, including Australia.

    I never watch news or politics or music on Youtube. I don't mean seldom, I mean never. Why would I? But it keeps shoving it down my throat. WTF? Never have got news from Youtube or Twitter or Facebook or Myspace or anywhere like that, doubt I ever will. Is Youtube trying to break in and get rid of the actual media outlets? I do read the Melbourne Age, the Guardian (Australian edition), the Financial Review, the Conversation, and sometimes the ABC (though I mostly access ABC over ordinary AM radio, which is what it does best). Is Google trying to extend its reach as the one and only conduit to news? (One ring to rule them all, one ring to bind them ...)

    And why this constant, constant bias to (a) the right and extreme right-wing channels, and (b) American news instead of news from some place I might actually be interested in?

    And while I have some (not huge but some) interest in gender politics and immigration and even religious affairs, I wouldn't dream of exploring these things through Youtube or anything else on-line outside actual newspaper and academic sites like (for examle) the Age or the Conversation. I have zero, repeat zero interest in watching some self-appointed opinionated talking head ranting on about why he hates feminists or making up bullshit about Obama being a Muslim terrorist and letting all his criminal friends in across the borders, or why Trump is the greatest. (Or why Trump is the worst leader the US has ever had for that matter. Well, he is, but I don't need Youtube to tell me that.)

    What to do? I like Youtube. I watch heaps of stuff on it. (See list above.)

    I managed to get rid of the stupid music stuff eventually. (It is annoying 'coz I want to see a nice long list of interesting stuff on my feed, not (mostly very bad) music.) It turns out that if you click "not interested" on all the music channels for a couple of weeks it drops back to a moderately annoying amount. Then I discovered that finding the two or three music videos I ever clicked "like" on and unliking them did the trick. Youtube no longer spams me with music channels. (And if I happen to want to watch a music video for some reason, I use a different browser and make sure I'm not logged in.) Problem solved.

    But this right-wing propaganda deluge is new, and the same tactics don't work. For the last coupe of weeks, apart from clicking "not interested" on all the news and propaganda channels it throws up - which helped a bit but didn't altogether work) I've tried opening all the individual propaganda videos it mixes into the "recommended for you" and "recently uploaded" sections (among others) and immediately clicking "dislike" without bothering to watch any of it - not even bothering to figure out if I'm disliking a view that I agree with, though most of them are obviously toxic. Even that doesn't work for more than an hour or two. Youtube keeps on spamming me with toxic propaganda no matter what I do. Ignoring them doesn't work either.

    The thing is, this deluge of (mostly) toxic news and political opinion is new. I never used to get it. It's only started in the last month or two. Possibilities:

    (1) I have done something to trigger it. (No idea what.)
    (2) Google has a new algorithm and it's a very bad one.
    (3) Something similar to the notorious Facebook fake news / Russian scandal has infiltrated Google.
    (4) Some of the people making the non-political channels I watch a lot also have extreme political views and Google is spaming me with everything else they like. For example, I have been watching a lot of the curiously fascinating videos posted by a tow truck operator in Missouri lately. He is deeply Christian, but that's OK, he is respectful about it and doesn't push his views on you, just sometimes mentions them in passing while he is doing interesting things like rescuing overturned trucks with his amazing mobile crane. (Yeah, yeah. The things I find interesting are weird. Deal with it.)

    One more thing. I got a routine weekly digest from Disqus just now. I use Disqus for two sites only (that I can think of, there may be the odd other one, but very seldom). These are both non-political. One is an investment advisory service I subscribe to: discussion concerns nothing more than whether it is wise to buy this stock or that other one. The other is a renewable energy news site (I have an interest in renewable energy technology and quite a lot of my savings invested in that sector, which I follow quite closely as I like my investments to make money and need to be aware of which way the wind is blowing, so to speak.) It too is non-political other than the extent to which government policies impact on the energy industry. But today's Disqus digest contains six "recommended discussions", one the soccer team in the cave, the other five all based around right-wing political memes! WTF? Where did that come from?

    BTW: I have a Twitter account but have never, ever posted anything to it, have logged in maybe three times in my life, and (so far as I can remember) never liked a post either. I haven't used it at all for maybe 6 or 12 months. My Facebook account hasn't been used for a similar lengthy of time, and I liked, in total, maybe 50 posts ever, a good half of them to do with non-political things (mostly gardening), and the remainder on semi-political things leaning a bit left, and all a long time ago.

    So two questions.

    (a) What can I do to get rid of all this political crap Youtube spams me with?
    (b) What deeper implications does this have for democracy and communication and the way the world is fragmenting intro disconnected virtual communities, each living in their own virtual echo-chamber worlds? This is serious stuff here.
    It's only crap after it fails. Until then it is the performance deal of the moment. - Dave

  2. #2
    Wotty wot wot. Storage Is My Life Chewy509's Avatar
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    I'm not seeing anything like that in recommended feed/channels on YT for me... And my wife keeps an eye on the kids watching YT stuff on their tablets, and they haven't seen anything similar either...

    I would guess it's a combination of 2 + 4... It's recommending not based on your history, but on the history of all people who have watched, what you watched. And as we both know, there are lots of crazies out there...

    As for Disqus, don't use, nor have an account. (I'm a social media hermit).
    I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

  3. #3
    NVIDIA> AMD Fixture Handruin's Avatar
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    Where do you primarily watch YouTube from? Is it from you PC using a web browser? If a web browser, have you tried extensions like Ghostery and ublock origin to reduce the leaking of private data on other site where YouTube and such may track? Have you tried watching in an incognito or equivalent browser instance to see if you continue to get similar results?

    I don't see a ton of right-wing crap but the Faux news garbage shows up within the results of my browsing along with other media outlets. I typically watch YouTube via Roku on my TV and not through my browser. I'm not signed in with a user account so I get the random selections based on prior watch history. I can't speak to how YouTube is deciding the selection for anyone but I have seen several channels complain about how YouTube is ever-changing things with sporadic communication. I would guess YouTube is biased toward US interests so I'm not surprised if you get our political swamp-filling sewage. There's seems to be a never-ending amount being produced by the current administration so much so that even a little bias likely gets you more than you're used to in your feed.

  4. #4
    I can't believe I'm a Fixture LunarMist's Avatar
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    It's terrible that everyone on the Google, Bing, MS, Abode, Chevy, etc. are tracking every movement, but then they get it so wrong.
    I'm still receiving the Korean stuff on the phone even though I cleared everything I could.
    --Lunar

  5. #5
    Storage? I am Storage! Tannin's Avatar
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    I use Chrome for Youtube, Handy. My policy is to use other browsers (Opera, Firefox, Vivaldi, Palemoon, Seamonkey) for all of my browsing except Youtube and similar Google services where there is no privacy anyway.

    I use ad-blockers on all the others, not on Chrome.

    I don't really mind Youtube echoing my browsing. What's bugging me here is that it seems to be echoing somebody else's browsing! (That's if Chewy's theory is correct, which seems likely.)

    Incogito? Can you do that and still be logged in? Logging in would make it meaningless, yes? Or have I misunderstood something? (I dislike not being logged in because if you don't log in te bloody thing auto-plays which drives me spare. That's whey they do it, of course, to force people to log in. Besides, I like the way Youtube (mostly) shows me lots of interesting (to me) things and I really admire the way it manages to pick so many things I will enjoy. It's very clever technology. It's just that it's gone haywire these last few weeks and keeps throwing skinhead/redneck/Trumpist/Brexiter rants at me, which it never used to do, and I can't work out how to tell it to stop.

    Chewy: it's good to see that this is only me it's doing it to. I'd hate to think that Google was doing a Facebook and trying to corrupt the entire world. (Instead of just trying to spy on and make money out of it, which we are sort of used to.)
    It's only crap after it fails. Until then it is the performance deal of the moment. - Dave

  6. #6
    I can't believe I'm a Fixture LunarMist's Avatar
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    What do you log into for the youtubes? I thought they just naturally play in the browsers.
    --Lunar

  7. #7
    Storage? I am Storage! Tannin's Avatar
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    If you log in, Lunar, there are two differences:
    (1) You can set preferences, for example, turn off the bloody auto-play, set notifications, preserve history, find stuff much more easily, like and unlike things. This last is handy because you can (for example) easily find something you watched a few weeks ago to show a friend. If you clicked "like" there is a list of ones you liked and it's easy to find again.
    (2) Google knows who you and you get a customised feed: mostly, you get stuff you probably like. Otherwise you get standardised rubbish and it's really boring. You can check this by comparing the youtube.com logged in to the same site from the same PC using a different browser. Completely different.

    (Google always knows who you are anyway - you can't outsmart the Borg - so you might as well make the best of it.)
    It's only crap after it fails. Until then it is the performance deal of the moment. - Dave

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    Not really a Hairy Aussie
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    They're on to you Tannin. The black helicopters and rendition to some 3rd world hellhole is next.

  9. #9
    I can't believe I'm a Fixture LunarMist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stereodude View Post
    They're on to you Tannin. The black helicopters and rendition to some 3rd world hellhole is next.
    The helicopters aren't really black, just a kind of dark gray.
    --Lunar

  10. #10
    I can't believe I'm a Fixture LunarMist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    If you log in, Lunar, there are two differences:
    (1) You can set preferences, for example, turn off the bloody auto-play, set notifications, preserve history, find stuff much more easily, like and unlike things. This last is handy because you can (for example) easily find something you watched a few weeks ago to show a friend. If you clicked "like" there is a list of ones you liked and it's easy to find again.
    (2) Google knows who you and you get a customised feed: mostly, you get stuff you probably like. Otherwise you get standardised rubbish and it's really boring. You can check this by comparing the youtube.com logged in to the same site from the same PC using a different browser. Completely different.

    (Google always knows who you are anyway - you can't outsmart the Borg - so you might as well make the best of it.)
    That's too much work for me and another password to keep track of. It's enough that I log into sites like this frequently with passwords every time.
    --Lunar

  11. #11
    Not really a Hairy Aussie
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    Quote Originally Posted by LunarMist View Post
    The helicopters aren't really black, just a kind of dark gray.
    But they don't have any tail markings do they?

  12. #12
    Storage? I am Storage! Tannin's Avatar
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    A funny thing. Two hours ago, Google introduced a new feature. If you hover over the written description of any video, a symbol like a three-dot colon now pops up. You can left-click on it and select "not interested". Neat!

    Or, in other words, Seek and ye shall find. Ask and ye shall receive. Kick in the door and it will fall down before you. (Tannin 11:9.)
    It's only crap after it fails. Until then it is the performance deal of the moment. - Dave

  13. #13
    I can't believe I'm a Fixture LunarMist's Avatar
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    They are using a vertical ellipsis fir some reason?
    --Lunar

  14. #14
    Storage? I am Storage! Tannin's Avatar
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    Ha. well spotted. I didn't know that that was even a thing.
    It's only crap after it fails. Until then it is the performance deal of the moment. - Dave

  15. #15
    Storage is cool
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    I have also seen this kind of news in my Google-feed. I'm very happy for Googles new feature.

  16. #16
    I can't believe I'm a Fixture LunarMist's Avatar
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    Are the Koreans after you too? Lately I also receive an excessive number of ads for hygiene products for no apparent reason.
    --Lunar

  17. #17
    Not really a Hairy Aussie
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    Quote Originally Posted by LunarMist View Post
    Are the Koreans after you too? Lately I also receive an excessive number of ads for hygiene products for no apparent reason.
    Maybe they've just figured out your a dirty old man.

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