Bookmarked All of YouTube, Not Just the Algorithm, is a Far-Right Propaganda Machine (Medium)

I have been researching far-right propaganda on YouTube since 2017, and I have consistently argued that we cannot understand radicalization on the platform by focusing solely on the algorithm. I have also come to find that we don’t actually need to understand the recommendation algorithm to still know that YouTube is an effective source of far-right propaganda. In fact, I will go even further: according to my research, YouTube could remove its recommendation algorithm entirely tomorrow and it would still be one of the largest sources of far-right propaganda and radicalization online.

Becca Lewis expands on her commentary on the recent research into YouTube and radicalisation. She argues that the platform itself is the source of far-right propaganda.

When we focus only on the algorithm, we miss two incredibly important aspects of YouTube that play a critical role in far-right propaganda: celebrity culture and community.

This is all fed by the incentives inherent within the platform.

Through parasocial relationships and platform-facilitated social networking, YouTube creators and audiences alike are incentivized to spread and reinforce far-right ideas.

Rather than a ‘propaganda machine’, Lewis argues that YouTube is best considered as a ‘pollutant’.

To invoke a metaphor from my colleague Whitney Phillips, far-right propaganda on the platform acts more like a pollutant than a rabbit hole: it contaminates those who consume it and simultaneously impacts the whole media environment.