YouTube is the world’s largest video site, where Google began its official service in November of 2005. It is a huge medium that more than 3 million people visit each day to watch more than 1 billion hours. Also, more than 500 hours of videos are uploaded per minute. The term ‘YouTube Algorithm’ is going around among users on YouTube. Looking at the actual comments on YouTube, users often say, “YouTube Algorithms took me to this video” and “YouTube algorithm is really amazing, as a video from five years ago appeared”. Therefore, this article will introduce what the YouTube Algorithm is and how it affects what people watch.
An algorithm is a set of rules that derive a desired output based on input data. If it is applied to YouTube, lists of videos that are displayed as a ‘next video’ or ‘recommended video’ are called YouTube Recommended Algorithm. Users are hooked on the YouTube Algorithm as they counter recommended videos that naturally appear. How could these recommended videos appear?
YouTube hasn’t said anything about the YouTube Algorithm yet, but it is actively being studied by other agencies to identify its features. According to a research titled YouTube Recommended Algorithm and Journalism by the Korea Press Promotion Foundation, YouTube-recommended Algorithm is the biggest difference between other platforms and YouTube. Seventy percent of YouTube users watch recommended videos. Also, it announced that factors such as titles and keywords are working strongly in the YouTube Algorithm.
Since YouTube is the largest medium used by lots of people around the world, experts have various views on YouTube-recommended Algorithm. Among them, criticism of YouTube is being made by referring to a ‘filter bubble effect’. The filter bubble effect is when the YouTube Algorithm provides biased information to users, and when users encounter only their interesting videos, they get confirmation bias.
However, Korean users do not feel the filter bubble effect very well. This is illustrated by the survey results from the Korea Press Promotion Foundation mentioned earlier. According to the results of the survey conducted in September 2019, 84.6 percent of the Korean YouTube users actually searched and watched videos themselves. Additionally, more respondents disagreed that Algorithms made it difficult to access other videos. That is, viewers are not only exposed to videos that they have interest in, but also other various videos which they don’t have interest in. Therefore, Koreans users don’t feel the filter bubble effect.
YouTube has a variety of videos that deal with so many various fields. It is an important task for users to have a position where they are not being misled by the YouTube-recommended Algorithm and using it in useful ways.