Author Topic: Breaking the Bubble  (Read 118 times)

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Offline TimG

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Breaking the Bubble
« on: March 11, 2018, 04:17:47 pm »
An interesting article on how YouTube promotes radical views in order to sell ads:
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/10/opinion/sunday/youtube-politics-radical.html

Quote
At one point during the 2016 presidential election campaign, I watched a bunch of videos of Donald Trump rallies on YouTube. I was writing an article about his appeal to his voter base and wanted to confirm a few quotations.

Soon I noticed something peculiar. YouTube started to recommend and “autoplay” videos for me that featured white supremacist rants, Holocaust denials and other disturbing content.

Since I was not in the habit of watching extreme right-wing fare on YouTube, I was curious whether this was an exclusively right-wing phenomenon. So I created another YouTube account and started watching videos of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, letting YouTube’s recommender algorithm take me wherever it would.

Before long, I was being directed to videos of a leftish conspiratorial cast, including arguments about the existence of secret government agencies and allegations that the United States government was behind the attacks of Sept. 11. As with the Trump videos, YouTube was recommending content that was more and more extreme than the mainstream political fare I had started with.

Intrigued, I experimented with nonpolitical topics. The same basic pattern emerged. Videos about vegetarianism led to videos about veganism. Videos about jogging led to videos about running ultramarathons.
I can see the logic in the google algorithm but the implications are disturbing. It seems like the more information we have access to the harder it gets to be truly informed about a topic. I would really like the ability to turn off searches based on my history. I think more needs to be done to educate people about how search engines distort reality to sell advertising.

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Online wilber

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Re: Breaking the Bubble
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2018, 04:29:49 pm »
Would using a VPN do it? It’s something I have been thinking about.
"Never trust a man without a single redeeming vice" WSC

Offline TimG

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Re: Breaking the Bubble
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2018, 04:48:12 pm »
Would using a VPN do it? It’s something I have been thinking about.
It would likely help temporarily then the search engine would start learning based on your new location and you would be back to where you were. This is a feature that the companies need to be forced to offer.

Offline ?Impact

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Re: Breaking the Bubble
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2018, 05:09:04 pm »
Yes, youtube does look at your history and make recommendations based on it. Their goal is to get you to watch more and more to drive ad revenue, so the basic assumption is you want more similar content. I get a lot of right wing rhetoric in my youtube stream, does that say something about me?

b.t.w. you can tell youtube to forget about your search history, remove your recommendations, etc. You don't really need to create a new account if you do things properly. One thing I do on a regular basis is delete the recommended channels the youtube gives me, not hard to do if you do it whenever they pop up. What I really would like them to implement is a complete black list on certain channels, never to again appear (eg. 10 ways to ...., always guaranteed to be complete crap).

Offline TimG

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Re: Breaking the Bubble
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2018, 06:04:10 pm »
b.t.w. you can tell youtube to forget about your search history, remove your recommendations, etc. You don't really need to create a new account if you do things properly.
I should not have to manually clear the history. It should be possible to disable the algorithms without losing your history. The same problem exists for search where they don't even use your account but instead rely on 'unique fingerprint' provided by your browser.

guest4

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Re: Breaking the Bubble
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2018, 06:05:50 pm »
On FB, I follow a couple of "Trump is awesome" pages along with the Conservative, NDP and Liberal pages, and I try to regularly search for different viewpoints in an effort to keep the 'bubble' from becoming too dense to break through.   Not sure how helpful it is, I still get lots of my own preference fed back to me.

Offline ?Impact

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Re: Breaking the Bubble
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2018, 06:26:30 pm »
I should not have to manually clear the history. It should be possible to disable the algorithms without losing your history. The same problem exists for search where they don't even use your account but instead rely on 'unique fingerprint' provided by your browser.

What is you concern about losing the youtube history, I don't think I have ever used it once. Yes browser fingerprinting is a different issue, if you are really concerned there then I suggest EFF's Privacy Badger.

Offline Queefer Sutherland

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Re: Breaking the Bubble
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2018, 10:06:30 pm »
It would likely help temporarily then the search engine would start learning based on your new location and you would be back to where you were. This is a feature that the companies need to be forced to offer.

I try not to use Google when I can, and use Duck Duck Go whenever I can.  The answer is consumers telling these companies to go eff themselves and seek a competitor when possible.  I have a browser plug-in that blocks all youtube ads so at least there's that.
I queef, therefore I am.

Offline TimG

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Re: Breaking the Bubble
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2018, 10:37:30 pm »
Yes browser fingerprinting is a different issue, if you are really concerned there then I suggest EFF's Privacy Badger.
Privacy is part of my concern but the bigger issue is I don't like the idea that my view of the world becomes a self reinforcing bubble because the content I run into is based on previous interests.

Offline TimG

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Re: Breaking the Bubble
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2018, 10:38:18 pm »
I try not to use Google when I can, and use Duck Duck Go whenever I can.
Thx. Never heard of this before. Will check out.

Offline kimmy

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Re: Breaking the Bubble
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2018, 09:44:20 am »
A while back I wrote about something similar in a different thread.
https://canadianpoliticalevents.createaforum.com/american-politics/the-donald-trump-thread/msg16158/#msg16158
I'll cut and paste that message here, because I think it's applicable:

The problem isn't with mass communication (which has been around for a very long time and is an essential part of democracy). The problem is with our new breed of personalized communication, which literally gives you the news you want to hear.

People can now choose media sources based on their political preferences. If you think Trump is a shining knight fighting for truth and justice, you can opt for media outlets that will give you stories that support that notion for you, and downplay any news to the contrary.  If you think Trump is a crook or a Russian puppet, you can do the same.  People can now choose their own reality, and the existence of an objective reality outside their preconceptions doesn't matter.  This goes beyond politics... anti-vaxxers and other conspiritards of many varieties do the same.

And it's gone beyond just people choosing to only follow media that supports their preconceptions.  Artificial intelligence is now fueling this as well.   When I open my web-browser now, it offers me a list of trending topics from around the web, but also topics that it knows I'm interested in.  Based on my previous searches and sites I visit, it knows that (for example) I was very interested in the Harvey Weinstein scandal. And when there's new information about Harvey Weinstein, it shows up on my list of suggested reads.   It also knows what websites I like, so it recommends articles from CBC rather than Fox News for example.  The artificial intelligence algorithms at work here are based around finding stories it thinks I will like, not around stories it thinks are the best or most objective source of information. Its goal is to make me happy, and its algorithm to try to do so is based on my existing prejudices.  The net effect here is that my web browser is guiding me toward content that confirms my preconceptions, as opposed to presenting an objective reality.

So once maybe mass communication provided you with a window to the world, but increasingly that window is turning into a mirror.


 -k
Paris - London - New York - Kim City
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Offline cybercoma

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Re: Breaking the Bubble
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2018, 09:46:13 am »
CROSS POSTING! BAN HAMMER!
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Offline Queefer Sutherland

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Re: Breaking the Bubble
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2018, 05:17:34 pm »
I should not have to manually clear the history. It should be possible to disable the algorithms without losing your history. The same problem exists for search where they don't even use your account but instead rely on 'unique fingerprint' provided by your browser.

It's very disturbing. 

There's browsers and search engines out there that don't track you.  These people who use things like Google Home are damned fools IMO.  And this tracking technology from private companies is a tool for the government to watch you, as Snowden proved to everyone.  Everyone is carrying a camera, a microphone, and a GPS in their pockets at most times in their 24hr life, their debit/credit cards and rewards cards track where they shop & what they buy, the ability of entities to track us is insane.
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