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YouTube’s recommended system has been criticized for being harmful. Mozilla wants to study it

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Mozilla wants to investigate YouTube’s recommended rabbit holes.

Seth Rosenblatt / CNET

YouTube’s video recommendation system has been repeatedly criticized by critics for sending people into lie information and extremist rabbit holes. Mozilla, the non-profit organization that currently makes the Firefox browser, wants to help YouTube users investigate how the controversial algorithms work.

Mozilla announced a project on Thursday asking Mozilla researchers to download a software tool that provides information about the video recommendations people are receiving on Google-owned platforms.

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In YouTube algorithm, on the right side of the screen[次のステップ]We recommend videos in columns, in the video player after the content is finished, or on the site’s home page. Each recommendation will be tailored to the viewer, taking into account viewing history, subscription lists, locations, and more. Recommendations can be harmless, like another live performance of the band you’re watching. However, critics say YouTube’s recommendations can lead viewers to peripheral content such as medical misinformation and conspiracy theories.

The Mozilla project, served as YouTube with over 2 billion users each month, is already competing with toxic viral content. Earlier this year, the company struggled to contain the share of Plandemic, a video that disseminates false information about COVID-19. YouTube and other platforms have also argued for helping spread QAnon’s conspiracy theory. It claims unfoundedly that a group of “deep state” actors, including cannibalists and pedophiles, are trying to defeat President Donald Trump. As Americans seek information online prior to the US presidential election, their interests will increase over the next few weeks.

“Despite the serious consequences, YouTube’s recommended algorithms are completely mysterious to users,” said Ashley Boyd, vice president of advocacy and engagement at Mozilla, in a blog post. “What does YouTube recommend for US users to watch during the last few days before the election, or the next day when election results may be unclear?”

To participate in a Mozilla project, you need to install an “extension”, a type of software tool for Firefox or Chrome, a browser created by Google. This tool, called Regret Reporter, allows people to flag videos that appear to be harmful and send that information to Mozilla researchers.

People can also add a written report stating which recommendations led to the video and state what they think is relevant. This extension also automatically collects data about the time users spend on YouTube. Mozilla wants to gain insight into what behavioral patterns lead to problematic recommendations.

YouTube was asked about the project and said there was a problem with Mozilla’s methodology.

“We’re always interested in looking at research on these systems and looking for ways to work more closely with them,” YouTube spokeswoman Farshad Shadloo said in a statement. .. “But it is difficult to draw a wide range of conclusions from case studies, and we are continually updating our recommendation system to improve the user experience.”

He said YouTube has added more than 30 policy and enforcement updates to its recommended system over the past year. The company is also cracking down on medical misinformation and plots.

Mozilla has scrutinized YouTube’s algorithms in the past. Last year, the organization awarded Guillaume Chaslot, a former YouTube engineer and candid critic, a fellowship to support his research on the platform’s artificial intelligence system. In July, Mozilla announced a funded project called “Their Tube.” This will give you an idea of ​​how YouTube recommendations can find people with different ideological views.

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