YouTube algorithm can lead you to some very strange suggestions, suggesting videos that seem to be to your liking and off-target at the same time. Today, Mozilla will introduce a new browser extension, the RegretsReporter, which aims to create a search for YouTube algorithm and its "strange suggestions" in users, to allow them to better understand how it works and give them details about the patterns that follow.
Mozilla started collecting stories from users last year about videos suggested to them by YouTube. A user searched for videos about them Vikings and he was offered racist content for white supremacy. Another searched for videos of "failures" and began receiving suggestions for videos of car wreckage from fatal road accidents.
However, there has not been a truly large-scale independent effort to track YouTube's algorithm to understand how it determines which videos it will recommend, said Ashley Boyd, Mozilla's vice president.
"It simply came to our notice then Facebook when it comes to misinformation, "said Boyd. "But there are other elements in the digital ecosystem that are being monitored, and YouTube is one of them."
A YouTube spokesman said the company was interested in seeing research into its suggestion system. "However, it is difficult to draw broad conclusions from anecdotal examples and update our systems on an ongoing basis to improve the user experience," the spokesman said, adding that over the past year, YouTube has launched "over 30 different changes to reduce controversial content proposals. ”
Google's video platform has promised on many occasions to modify the algorithm, Boyd points out, even when company executives knew it was proposing videos containing hate speech and conspiracy theories.
The browser extension will send data to Mozilla about how often you use YouTube, but without collecting information about what you are looking for or watching, unless you select it. You can send a report via the extension for more details on any "weird" videos you come across in the suggestions, which will allow Mozilla to collect information about video where you mention and how you got there.
Mozilla hopes the extension will answer various questions about YouTube's suggestion algorithm. "I would like people to be more interested in how the AI and in this case, the propositional systems are involved in their lives, "Boyd said.
Mozilla stressed that the privacy users is protected throughout the process. The data collected by the company from the extension will be linked to a randomly generated user ID and not to your YouTube account and only Mozilla will have access to the raw data. He will not collect data in private browser windows and when Mozilla shares its search results, it will do so in a way that minimizes the risk of user recognition.
Mozilla has no formal agreement with Google or YouTube for its research into the suggestion algorithm, but Boyd says they have contacted the company and committed to sharing the information.
YouTube, however, said that the methodology proposed by Mozilla seems "questionable", adding that it is not able to properly control the way in which a clip is defined as "strange".
Mozilla plans to spend six months gathering information from the expansion and then presenting its findings to users and YouTube.