Are you concerned about the impact of online algorithms on the accuracy of your news?
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What is it?
YouTube was more likely to show video content about election fraud in the 2020 presidential elections to viewers who had already demonstrated skepticism, reveals a new study by NYU's Center for Social Media and Politics. The most skeptical viewers had three times as many videos populated for them on election fraud as the least skeptical viewers, leading to online echo chambers.
The YouTube algorithm is designed to show viewers more of the content they have already demonstrated interest in. In the case of the 2020 elections, the algorithm promoted mis-, dis-, and mal-information (MDM) to users who were skeptical of the election's integrity.
Why is it important?
Across the country, many Americans believe that the 2020 presidential election was not free and fair. Automated recommendation algorithms, like YouTube's, play a large role in the perpetuation of these beliefs.
MDM surrounding the 2020 US presidential election has already led to violence, as seen on January 6th, 2021, when the US Capitol was stormed. The perpetuation of election MDM can lead to more calls to acts of violence, threatening democracy.
What can you do?
Use platforms like YouTube while not logged into an account to prevent your viewing history from influencing your video recommendations.