每日跟讀#679: How YouTube Radicalized Brazil
When Matheus Dominguez was 16, YouTube recommended a video that changed his life.
He was in a band in Niterói, a beach-ringed city in Brazil, and practiced guitar by watching tutorials online.
YouTube had recently installed a powerful new artificial intelligence system that learned from user behavior and paired videos with recommendations for others. One day, it directed him to an amateur guitar teacher named Nando Moura, who had gained a wide following by posting videos about heavy metal, video games and, most of all, politics.
In colorful and paranoid far-right rants, Moura accused feminists, teachers and mainstream politicians of waging vast conspiracies. Dominguez was hooked.
As his time on the site grew, YouTube recommended videos from other far-right figures. One was a lawmaker named Jair Bolsonaro, then a marginal figure in national politics — but a star in YouTube’s far-right community in Brazil, where the platform has become more widely watched than all but one TV channel.
Last year, he became President Bolsonaro.
“YouTube became the social media platform of the Brazilian right,” said Dominguez, now a lanky 17-year-old who says he, too, plans to seek political office.
Members of the nation’s newly empowered far right — from grassroots organizers to federal lawmakers — say their movement would not have risen so far, so fast, without YouTube’s recommendation engine.
New research has found they may be correct. YouTube’s search and recommendation system appears to have systematically diverted users to far-right and conspiracy channels in Brazil.
A New York Times investigation in Brazil found that, time and again, videos promoted by the site have upended central elements of daily life.
Teachers describe classrooms made unruly by students who quote from YouTube conspiracy videos or who, encouraged by right-wing YouTube stars, secretly record their instructors.
Some parents look to “Dr. YouTube” for health advice but get dangerous misinformation instead, hampering the nation’s efforts to fight diseases like Zika. Viral videos have incited death threats against public health advocates.
And in politics, a wave of right-wing YouTube stars ran for office alongside Bolsonaro, some winning by historic margins. Most still use the platform, governing the world’s fourth-largest democracy through internet-honed trolling and provocation.
YouTube’s recommendation system is engineered to maximize watchtime, among other factors, the company says, but not to favor any political ideology. The system suggests what to watch next, often playing the videos automatically, in a never-ending quest to keep us glued to our screens.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/344176/web/