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YouTube's dislike button pretty rubbish

by on21 September 2022

Firefox strike back

Firefox developer Mozilla has been asking around about YouTube’s video moderation tools and discovered that most people think they are as useless as a chocoate teapot because the continue to recommend videos you have said are rubbish.

Users have several tools to make YouTube understand what you do not want to see -- the Dislike button, the Don’t Recommend Channel option, and the ability to remove videos from your account’s history.

Mozilla found that users still get these “bad recommendations” and sometimes even gives you more of the unwanted videos. 

The study consisted of over 22,000 volunteers who downloaded Mozilla’s RegretsReporter browser extension which allows users to control recommendations on YouTube and create reports for the researchers. Via RegretsReporter, Mozilla analyzed more than 500 million videos.

It looks like YouTube’s tools are pretty much as random as Donald Trump's statements his document storage methods. More than 39.3 percent of participants didn’t see any changes to their recommendations. One user, named Participant 112 in the study, used the moderation tools to stop getting medical videos on their account only to be inundated with them a month later. 23 percent said they had a mixed experience. For that group, they stopped seeing unwanted videos for a while before having them reappear soon after. And 27.6 percent of participants did say they stopped getting the bad recommendations after using the moderation tools.

The most effective standalone tool turns out to be the Don’t Recommend Channel, which cut down recommendations by around 43 percent. The Not Interested option and Dislike button fared the worst as they only stopped 11 percent and 12 percent of unwanted videos, respectively.

Mozilla researchers give their own recommendations on how YouTube should change its algorithm with most of the emphasis on increasing transparency. They want to see the controls be made easier to understand while also asking YouTube to listen to user feedback more often. Mozilla also calls for the platform to be more transparent on how its algorithm works.

YouTube was a little upset at the findings and said that the researchers didn't take into account how the “systems actually work” and misunderstood how the tools function. Moderation tools don’t stop an entire topic, just that particular video or channel, a spokes YouTube said.


Last modified on 21 September 2022
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