YouTube is a platform that heavily recommends content to you based on your viewing and interaction patterns. This is both a good and bad thing, as a lot of people seem to have trouble swatting away bad recommendations. In fact, a study conducted by Mozilla concluded that most users don’t feel that they have control over their YouTube recommendations.
The Google-owned platform gives you several options to help finetune your recommendations, so you’d think that pruning your feed would be a piece of cake. There’s the “dislike” button, “Do Not Recommend Channel” button, “Not Interested” button, and the option to remove videos from your watch history.
However, most people can’t really control their YouTube recommendations
Mozilla conducted a large study into YouTube and how it curates content for its users.. The company used its RegretsReporter, an open-source tool designed to analyze YouTube recommendation algorithm. The study involved a total of 22,722 participants. 2,758 people were surveyed and 567,880,195 videos were analyzed.
After the study ended, Mozilla concluded that YouTube’s tools for finetuning your recommendations are barely effective. Most people feel that they don’t have any control over their recommendations. One user said:
“Nothing changed. Sometimes I would report things as misleading and spam and the next day it was back in. It almost feels like the more negative feedback I provide to their suggestions the higher bulls**t mountain gets. Even when you block certain sources they eventually return”
The main issue is that people would see videos on their feed that they just don’t want to see. It can be as innocuous as seeing a video they’re not interested in. However, there are also scams and shady videos on the platform that just ruin the feed.
As stated before, YouTube has tools to help you remove these videos from your feed, but they’re not as effective as you’d think. In the study, Mozilla found that the “Don’t recommend channel” works about 43% of the time for getting rid of bad recommendations. That’s the most effective method in the group, and that speaks volumes about the rest of the methods.
The next most effective method is removing videos from your watch history, and that was helpful about 29% of the time. The “dislike” button was effective about 12% of the time. Lastly, the “Not Interested” button worked about 11% of the time.
That’s not really a good look. People have to constantly swat away bad recommendations only to see them pop up again. There are people who feel that the more they try to get rid of the videos, the more they’re recommended.
This is a major problem and, hopefully, this report will push YouTube to make changes to its algorithm.