I heavily rely on Youtube as a source for pop culture consumption, news, tutorials, and a music player. For the past couple of weeks, I have been using Youtube as I usually do, making sure to not use incognito mode in order to diligently track my history. Today, I synthesized this collected data by analyzing the recommendations on my homepage curated by Youtube based on my behavior and watch history.
After analyzing the correlations between my recommendations and my watch history, I was struck by how unaware I was of the Youtube algorithm. For weeks, I had been absentmindedly allowing Youtube to strategically persuade me to click on content that was related to my behavior.
Prior to this analysis, I had never given thought to how accurately curated the “Up Next” videos in the sidebar of a video are. The visually engaging thumbnails along with the clickbait titles are undoubtedly catered to my interests of left-leaning politics, cooking, East-Asian pop culture, and design. In addition, the “Recommended for you” makes the videos feel customized, and specially crafted just for me. These persuasive techniques incentivize me to click on a video, and when clicked, it is stored in my profile, ultimately contributing to the way my homepage recommendations are displayed.
It was interesting how just by reviewing my watch history, I was able to exactly pinpoint what design project I was working on or what I was doing at the time. For example, when I saw many Royalty Free Audio videos in a row, I was immediately taken back to when I was working on a video project.
Somehow, despite the large number of tutorial videos I have watched, my homepage is still not cluttered with tutorial video recommendations. Rather, it contains more pop-culture or politically oriented videos. This leads me to believe that the Youtube Algorithm is indeed successful, however terrifying that may be.
(written by Jenni Lee)