back to article YouTube's radicalizing Alt-right trolls and Facebook's recruiting new language boffins

Hello, here's a quick roundup of news from the world of machine learning. Facebook has started an NLP research group: Facebook’s AI research group has launched a natural language research consortium to partner up with other boffins focused on areas like machine translation and sentiment analysis. Members in the group will …

  1. Timmy B Silver badge

    Okaay - what way do you want it. You say:

    "YouTube and radicalization: There are numerous case studies of YouTube algorithms contributing to online radicalization by promoting far-right videos and conspiracy theories."

    Numerous case studies - I not you haven't mentioned one single example of the many. Then in the qoue from the actual study you're talking about is this:

    “...Yet, the supporting evidence for this claim is mostly anecdotal, and there are no proper measurements of the influence of YouTube’s recommender system...”

    So which is it? numerous cases or none?

    ANY thoughtless radical loons are a pointless scourge, of course. Regardess of right / left leaning.

    1. Timmy B Silver badge

      PS: please excuse my terrible typing today - it's early on a Monday. Bleurgh....

    2. Jedit
      Stop

      "ANY thoughtless radical loons are a pointless scourge, of course."

      Don't play the "both sides are equally bad" card here. Radical left wingers want to divest the top 1% or 0.1% of their excess wealth for the benefit of everyone else, optionally beheading them if they prove recalcitrant. Radical right wingers want to exterminate anyone who fails the paper bag test.

      1. Timmy B Silver badge

        Re: "ANY thoughtless radical loons are a pointless scourge, of course."

        "Radical left wingers want to divest the top 1% or 0.1% of their excess wealth for the benefit of everyone else,"

        That's hardly radical. No your radical left winger is a communist and for sure they don't want to stop at 0.1%.

        Both sides are equally as bad. It's that simple.

        1. anonanonanon

          Re: "ANY thoughtless radical loons are a pointless scourge, of course."

          Seems like only one side is marching around with guns and has a disproportionate amount of mass killers associated with them

          1. Timmy B Silver badge

            Re: "ANY thoughtless radical loons are a pointless scourge, of course."

            "Seems like only one side is marching around with guns and has a disproportionate amount of mass killers associated with them"

            Beyond the shores of the USA nope that's not the case.

            1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

              Re: "ANY thoughtless radical loons are a pointless scourge, of course."

              So, Turkey and Brazil don't count then?

              1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
                Meh

                Re: "ANY thoughtless radical loons are a pointless scourge, of course."

                Germany: 150 - 200 killed by Nazis in the last 30 years. Police only started to get interested after one police officer was killed in 2007.

            2. This post has been deleted by its author

            3. Jedit
              Flame

              "Beyond the shores of the USA nope that's not the case."

              OK, let's take it closer to home, where lefties sploshing fascists with dairy products is regularly equated to an MP being stabbed and shot to death by a right wing lunatic. Since when was a flesh wound to the dignity worthy of equal outrage to murder on the streets?

              I'll spare you the trouble of answering: it isn't. And anyone who thinks it is can fuck off, continue fucking off until they reach the horizon, then keep fucking off forever. However, as I am not a fascist I will allow them to choose the direction in which they fuck off.

              1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                Re: "Beyond the shores of the USA nope that's not the case."

                but *how* shall we fuck off O'Lord?

                1. GrapeBunch Silver badge

                  Re: "Beyond the shores of the USA nope that's not the case."

                  I'm surprised at that reaction from a purveyor of Vogon poetry.

              2. dwieske

                Re: "Beyond the shores of the USA nope that's not the case."

                if you are okay with political violence, you are part of the problem...End of story you have a very fascist approach to things for someone claiming not to be a fascist....seems the biggest racists, censorers are the leftist nowadays

                1. sed gawk Silver badge

                  Re: "if you are okay with political violence, you are part of the problem"

                  Sorry but that is rubbish.

                  Preventing someone from exercising democratic rights by violent means, is bad.

                  Using violent means to resist the suppression of your own, or other peoples, democratic rights is fine.

                  An example of the latter, is the deployment of armed troops during the break up of the former Yugoslavia.

          2. dwieske

            Re: "ANY thoughtless radical loons are a pointless scourge, of course."

            and the other hald commits 99% of the political violance, and 3 firebomb attacks in the past month.....get your facts straight!

      2. dwieske

        Re: "ANY thoughtless radical loons are a pointless scourge, of course."

        left wingers want to silence, by violence if needed, anyone that is not an extreme leftist, see what happened in portland, at the minds IRL event, heard of andy ngho?

        1. Agincourt and Crecy!

          Re: "ANY thoughtless radical loons are a pointless scourge, of course."

          I identify as left wing and I don’t want to silence you. I would rather you keep on posting your opinion. You have just been proved wrong on the left wing wanting to silence you.

          I certainly would never espouse violence as a way of disagreeing with you. It seems to be the ultimate in ad hominem attacks and as we are all aware when someone is losing an argument then ad hominem fallacies start to appear. It’s a lot like watching a playground argument develop.

          If you have a point I cannot refute then I would defer as opposed to commit violence as a response. If violence is the answer it has to have been a bloody stupid question. Again your blanket assertion is incorrect.

          Blanket statements and single cherry picked cases to support those statements really don’t work.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "ANY thoughtless radical loons are a pointless scourge, of course."

            YOU do not represent the left or its intent.

            The Left IS opposed to free speech because "Children and NotSeez" etc...

            The Alt Right is a minority which the Left is growing and stop ignoring who the real serial killers are

            just because it's twice a day from Chicago, Boston or St-Louis....

        2. Kiwi Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: "ANY thoughtless radical loons are a pointless scourge, of course."

          left wingers want to silence, by violence if needed, anyone that is not an extreme leftist,

          Well, I'm obviously quite left and have no desires to silence you.

          My posting history would show I'm quite the fan of free speech even when I might find it deeply offensive.

          You could perhaps try looking around a bit more at the subject matter, perhaps get to know some of us and what we stand for?

          (OK, I'm right-leaning left-of-centre centrist... Or left-wing fundamentalist conservative.. Or whatever... )

    3. squigbobble

      CASE studies...

      ...follow an individual example in order to show what mechanisms are in play. It's more or less a short longitudinal study with a sample of 1. They're useless for statistical purposes, even adding a bunch of them together isn't much use as every case study could have used a different procedure.

      The quoted study actually has a large sample size with consistent measurements and can, presumably, be used to draw some sort of conclusion with stats to back it up.

      You're mixing up the 2 types of study, it's not the article author who's confused about that. You're right that he hasn't cited any of the 'many' case studies, though.

      1. dwieske

        Re: CASE studies...

        posting this kind of article is only good to destroy your reputation......we are seeing el reg turn to garbage right in front of us!

  2. jrd

    Radicalization

    Buried in the article is this gem: "We use the consumption of Alt-right content as a proxy for radicalization." And I think this is a fundamental problem. I don't think it is reasonable to equate receiving propaganda with believing propaganda. I have watched many videos on youtube containing content that I disagree with. The nature of the "people who liked X also like Y" style of recommendations is that you will be exposed to content you might not otherwise have found, but that's just as true of amazon's book recommendations system and has nothing to do with "radicalization", unless you have some way of identifying what people actually think.

    Speaking from personal experience, I watched a lot of Jordan Peterson's videos on youtube and, as a result of the recommendation system, have seen a number of "alt right" videos which I would not otherwise have encountered. But this is a GOOD thing - I am now better informed and more aware of some of the nastier views around. I have not become more "alt right" as a result, but I have become more aware of extremist ideologies and the dangers they represent online. The way to defeat ignorant and despicable ideology is through exposing and ridiculing it, not hiding it away and saying "this content is too dangerous for you to see".

    1. Paul Kinsler

      Re: Buried in the article is this gem

      Or, perhaps, "in the Introduction (top of p2, under Present Work) of the article is a statement about ...". Note also that in RQ2 of the Discussions (Sec. 8) are some further remarks on this assumption.

      Of course, using consumption as a proxy does not equate the two; if looking at trends, if radicalized users were some non-trivial fraction of consuming users (e.g. 30%, 50%, 80%, whatever), the conclusions would still be reasonable.

      It helps, when reading research papers, to read more carefully. It's fine to be concerned about their consumption-as-proxy, but it also helps to look for more commentary, and judge that choice in its full context. At the least you should read the abstract + intro, and any discussion or conclusion sections.

    2. Tomato42 Silver badge

      Re: Radicalization

      > The way to defeat ignorant and despicable ideology is through exposing and ridiculing it, not hiding it away and saying "this content is too dangerous for you to see".

      nope, no, it is not. Banning them from the popular platforms (where they can find new users easily) is what helps: https://medium.com/acm-cscw/you-cant-stay-here-the-efficacy-of-reddit-s-2015-ban-examined-through-hate-speech-93f22b140f26

      1. Timmy B Silver badge

        Re: Radicalization

        "nope, no, it is not. Banning them from the popular platforms (where they can find new users easily) is what helps: https://medium.com/acm-cscw/you-cant-stay-here-the-efficacy-of-reddit-s-2015-ban-examined-through-hate-speech-93f22b140f26"

        I'll see your censorship and raise you book burning.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Radicalization

          They scream Not-seez while censoring and burning books...

          The ignorance is so "Makes me want to flee to the countryside"...

      2. jrd

        Re: Radicalization

        I am prepared to accept that some material should not be readily available. However the problem is always - who gets to decide? I don't trust Google to determine what material I should be permitted to view. Nor do I trust my government, because corporations and governments have a poor track record of acting as impartial arbiters of the public interest.

        1. Timmy B Silver badge

          Re: Radicalization

          "who gets to decide?"

          I would suppose the legal framework of whatever country you live in. But that's a very imperfect solution. It's what decides the law that we all live under and should be created under democratic principles. But that's a big should. A very big one.

          It would boil down to one of two things - 1. The law decides what is allowed, or 2. We all do what we like. 1 is far from perfect but it's the best we have right now.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Radicalization

            "2. We all do what we like."

            I believe the satanist manifesto (as espoused by one Mr Crowley back in the day) had #2 prefaced with the proviso "As long as it harms no one"

            Which is something that sociopaths tend to forget.

            Despite the outrage, we actually live in a far safer and more tolerant society than even 20 years ago, let along 40 or 100. One of the reasons these idiots get attention is because there are so few of them and one of the reasons they're so vocal is because they feel painted into a corner.

            Once upon a time - and it wasn't that long ago, a school shooting in the USA was barely state news, let alone national. Times change. Try not to become afraid of your own shadow.

        2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Radicalization- Google promotes terror!

          I am prepared to accept that some material should not be readily available. However the problem is always - who gets to decide? I don't trust Google to determine what material I should be permitted to view.

          Problem is that's exactly what Google does via either it's recommendations system, or via it's censorship. So for some reason YT recommended I watch a video about producing nitrotetrazoles. Hey, I'm being radicalised! I suspect that recommendation came from watching stuff like Cody'sLab, NileRed etc which I think have all had.. problems with YT's content policies.

          The bigger challenge is this-

          YouTube and radicalization: There are numerous case studies of YouTube algorithms contributing to online radicalization by promoting far-right videos and conspiracy theories.

          And here's an interesting example-

          https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/08/30/youtube-corrects-conservative-comic-on-global-warming/

          The increasingly liberal channel stepped in, adding its own editorial slant to the video. The comedy clip now features a horizontal addendum below the frame. The text, credited to Wikipedia, describes Global Warming in a clinical fashion.

          Google likes to claim it's just a publisher, yet editing or modifying a creator's content is hardly a neutral/common carrier activity. Plus the video makes a fair point, ie if Obama really believes in cAGW and rising sea levels, why drop $15m on a beach front property?

          And why would Google give free passes to far-left groups like Antifa, or Extinction Rebellion, which both want to overthrow democracy, often by violent (I mean 'peaceful') means?

          But such is politics. If you're on the far-left, then censorship is one way to stifle dissent and manufacture consensus. Except if you're a large business like Google, Facebook etc, you're not supposed to be a political campaign tool (see RussiaGate), and if you become one, then expect to be regulated the same way as any political lobbying company.

          1. Nightkiller

            Re: Radicalization- Google promotes terror!

            "And why would Google give free passes to far-left groups like Antifa, or Extinction Rebellion, which both want to overthrow democracy, often by violent (I mean 'peaceful') means?"

            Er. don't you mean pieceful?

      3. Poncey McPonceface
        Thumb Down

        Re: Radicalization

        There are many terrible ideas; the idea that the best way to police so-called "hate" speech is to repress it is a particularly terrible idea in a sea of terrible ideas.

        Look. You can have a free and open society, or you can have a censorious environment – you can't have both, isn't that obvious? Do you want to live in a free and open society? I know I do. If you want to be able to speak truth to power then you're going to want to live in a free and open society. However, there are some consequences as a result – the first of which, that we all grow a thicker skin, stems from the reality that there are *always* going to people with ideas you don't agree with and some of those ideas you're going to find very objectionable.

        The following points have been made over and over again but they bear repeating in light of the very bad idea that you're spreading.

        (1) Banned/censored/repressed ideas don't "go away", they get pushed underground into an echo chamber.

        (2) If you ban/censor/repress something then paradoxically you make victims – the purveyors of the ideas and others who support them will claim victimhood. The victimhood lends *legitimacy* to the bad ideas.

        (3) Some people have conspiratorial natures and if you suppress something they'll think that there's something important "they" don't want us to find out about which gives the suppressed ideas an aura. Related is the notion of the allure of the forbidden fruit.

        (4) Over time alternative platforms will spring into being to cater for the de-platformed ideas. We've seen this happen in real time recently. Thus censorship on YouTube/Twitter/Facebook/… has given rise to Minds/Gab/Dlive/Bitchute/… This is not new, in the past you had alternative presses and private presses. Look it up, let history guide you.

        (5) All ideas need to be challenged, by forcing some ideas underground those ideas go unchallenged thus thwarting the battle of ideas in the crucible of reason (if you'll pardon my mixed metaphor).

        (6) Contrarian types will naturally push back because of "who are you to tell me what i can and cannot read or watch or listen to"

        (7) The whole *point* of freedom of speech is to protect the edgy and uncomfortable ideas. After all, when you think about it, anodyne ideas need no protection.

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: Radicalization

          You need to read up on the paradox of tolerance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Radicalization

            Ah, the old party Popper. Problem with his theory is it's often misunderstood, often deliberately, so-

            In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols.

            Which generally assumes you can correctly identify tolerant vs intolerant behaviour. So we end up with odd situations like Antifa attacking a gay, Asian guy (Andy Ngo) because he's right-wing, and presumably racist/homophobic. Or there's dear'ol Milo who also gets called a racist, despite being married to a black guy.

            But it's ok to dress in blackshirts, and assault people with bike locks because one cannot tolerate intolerance. Or, per Popper, attempt to supress rational debate and deplatform anyone the tolerant can't tolerate. But people have become so polarised and wedded to their belief systems that they refuse to see that they may be the intolerant ones.

            Popper's stuff has also been very common in climate 'science', both for his views on post-normal science vs the traditional scientific method, and tolerance. So rational debate is supressed, and it's now merging with traditional agitprop & protest via groups like Extinction Rebellion. Don't look behind the curtain, don't try to find the data, just BELIEVE! Act Now! Use those useful idiots to force through social change and committ to massive spending before the data shows it was an utter waste of money.

            On which point, see also-

            https://www.nrel.gov/state-local-tribal/blog/posts/pv-survivability-from-hurricanes-lessons-learned.html

            The USVI estimate uninsured losses at close to $7.5 billion, including damages to roughly 80-90% of the power transmission and distribution systems and a number of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation systems.

            Useful (or useless) idiots like the BBC are already trying to link Dorian to cAGW but can't.. quite seem to link it to bad policy, like how 'renewables' add to the problems. NREL offers some suggestions to make solar subsidy farms more survivable, but of course that also adds to the cost & makes them even less affordable than they are now.

            1. sed gawk Silver badge

              Re:Public service announcement

              Paradox -

              We the non-bigots want to freely discuss things, even when that offends other people, but we won't let you use our tolerance to hurt us, or curtail our freedoms, we will resist, by force if required
              .

              Anti Facists -

              The reasonable opposition to the violent political ideals espoused by the collection of Fascists offered by the anti-fascist movement in the US - are fairly restrained, I wonder why you feel the need to shorten the name. Does the term "AntiFa" seem easier to discredit?

              Racists..

              People are not a gestalt entity, regardless of the levels of melanin, or political opinion.

              Which leads us to our PSA.

              ". Or there's dear'ol Milo who also gets called a racist, despite being married to a black guy"

              Fucking a person of colour, doesn't mean racist bullshit stops being (a) racist and (b) bullshit.

              Being a person of colour, doesn't mean racist bullshit stops being (a) racist and (b) bullshit.

              Being gay, even if you are gay, and a person of colour, doesn't mean racist bullshit stops being (a) racist and (b) bullshit.

              Other flavours of bigoted bullshit are available..

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Re: Re:Public service announcement

                Paradox -

                We the non-bigots want to freely discuss things, even when that offends other people, but we won't let you use our tolerance to hurt us, or curtail our freedoms, we will resist, by force if required.

                Not sure why you think that's a paradox, unless it's projection. But it's also part of the problem. Non-bigots do want the ability to freely and rationally discuss things. Others may find that offensive and try to shut down debate, and curtail freedoms. But usually humans are pretty smart. If they find something is hurtful or offensive, one option is to ignore it rather than try to ban it. I don't like this, therefore you can't do that.. Which is not exactly tolerant. Then there's 'hurt'..

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryJteQTPBlU

                Which is admittedly painful to watch, but includes microagressions, jazz hands, incorrect use of gendered pronouns and general intolerance. So that makes life more complex, but to me doesn't seem to justify smacking people around the head with bike locks, or using improvised chemical weapons against the 'intolerant'.

                I wonder why you feel the need to shorten the name. Does the term "AntiFa" seem easier to discredit?

                Their actions make them easier to discredit. Plus if you do a quick search, you'll find plenty of Antifa branded merchandise for sale. Not all of it organic, and probably not licensed either, but I guess demonstrates how capitalism supports that movement.

                Other flavours of bigoted bullshit are available..

                Indeed..

                https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alt-right

                Rather than concede the moral high ground to the left, the alt right turns the left's moralism on its head and makes it a badge of honor to be called "racist," "homophobic," and "sexist."

                Like I said elsewhere, it's tribalism and weaponised language. Far-right or alt-right then becomes coding for someone who's racist, homophobic and sexist. But that's all part of the psychology of demonising and dehumanising political opponents, and trying to claim the moral high ground. So an interesting example of this comes from everyone's favorite bar-maid, Alexandria Ocasional-Cortex. Seen here-

                https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/28/us/migrant-shelters-ice-contracts-counties.html

                Being comforted and distraught at the inhumanity of America's 'concentration camps'. Except-

                https://www.rt.com/usa/462837-aoc-parking-lot-detention-center/

                It was 'fake news'. So much so that Snopes officially debunked the fake, thus providing the denial needed to confirm a conspiracy*. AOC uses the term 'fake news' to try and deflect criticism a lot, but do you think it's 'alt-right' to point out that kind of dishonesty? Or right to try and supress anyone that tries to point it out.

                But such is Google. If your views conflict with theirs, well, that's too bad. Despite Google and other anti-social media companies gatekeeping functions.

                *For those on the alt-left, that was sarcasm. Mostly.

        2. Dinanziame
          Alert

          Re: Radicalization

          I broadly agree with your opinion, but the argument about alternative platforms being created to distribute the censored ideas kind of falls flat. Essentially nobody has ever heard of Minds/Gab/Dlive/Bitchute/, so the censorship has a very real effect on the proliferation of ideas.

          1. Drew Scriver Bronze badge

            Re: Radicalization

            "Essentially nobody has ever heard of Minds/Gab/Dlive/Bitchute/, so the censorship has a very real effect on the proliferation of ideas."

            Evidence for this conclusion? There are a lot of fundamental ideas people have never heard of or can't place that are not necessarily deliberately censored. A few that come to mind: President Pro Tempore, Posse Comitatus, the Magna Carta, and the Bill of Rights.

            Then there are erroneous fundamental ideas that are actively being promoted, like the "constitutional wall of separation between church and state in the USA" (which is believed to mean that religion is legally banned from influencing anything in the public square), and the notion that democracy can only survive if everyone can cast a vote with minimal effort (no effort at all is even better) regardless of their level of knowledge about the candidates, the issues, or civics.

            Ironically, the campaign to end "fake news" lost steam very quickly once it became clear that the more progressive media rather frequently disseminated "fake news" themselves.

            Now, I am not saying that censorship has no effect. I am, however, positing that media bias, ignorance, and personal bias and interest (or lack thereof) plays a far greater role than the current suppression of certain channels.

        3. Agincourt and Crecy!

          Re: Radicalization

          The difficulty is that in allowing controversial ideas to be published, you then have the adherents to those ideas creating a filter bubble that allows them to seek out more and more pages supporting those idea? They create their own little echo chambers blocking and deleting countervailing views and sharing the more toxic contents as they go. The YouTube algorithm is not specifically targeting people with hate speech, it simply looks at what you viewed, what others viewed and shows you what others viewed. That seems to take you rapidly down a rabbit hole. My feed is full of dodgy restorations of junk that all seems to relate to me looking for a service guide for a Tilley Lamp.

          The ability to block countervailing views is a big issue. You cannot challenge if you cannot comment, but if you cannot block you risk being overwhelmed by offensive trolls when you do challenge.

      4. dwieske

        Re: Radicalization

        a very fascist approach you propose

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Radicalization

      Alt right is just a label thrown around far too easily at the moment, Peterson isn't Alt Right for starters IMHO, if anything he's more a centrist.

      Anyway - I watch a mix of content from various sources because so many media outlets have a clear agenda especially those from the UK/US. I just can't find an unbiased source any longer.

      1. squigbobble

        Re: Radicalization

        Peterson, King of the Lobsters, is almost certainly in the Intellectual Derp Web category in this study. As mentioned in the study, there's overlap in the audience between the IDW and the talking heads formerly known as alt-right which would be enough for YouTube's algorithm to try and steer viewers from one to the other.

      2. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Radicalization

        Alt right is just a label thrown around far too easily at the moment, Peterson isn't Alt Right for starters IMHO, if anything he's more a centrist.

        Almost everyone believes that they are themselves centrists, along with the people whose thoughts they identify with. I have no position on Peterson, but note that he has accepted ~C$200k funding from Rebel Media, a Canadian Breitbart clone.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Radicalization

          It's easy to place people on the general political spectrum. Peterson is definitely on the center-right. There's nothing all that controversial on his position in a general view of the world. Most of what he's known for is his resistance to the whole gender pronoun thing and can be summed up by: "I should not be FORCED to have to go out of my way to use very specific language just so you don't have your feelings hurt". And quite frankly I agree with him on that.

          As to the funding from Rebel Media, that's not entirely the story. His research grant from the University of Toronto was cut off (for somewhat dubious and badly argumented reasons) and Rebel Media (amongst others) started a crowdfunding campaign to give Peterson the money he needs to continue his research (That's not his salary btw, but money to hire and pay PHDs, fund the execution, etc). That means the money he's getting isn't coming directly from Rebel Media. Sure some of the crowdfunding "sponsors" might be right wing extremists, but that can't and shouldn't influence the research itself The results are still scientific work, they're still publicized, it's still open for peer review. If the work he delivers at the end is of all this IS indeed far right wing ideology then maybe we can take something from it, but so far, none of what he has published is really far-right wing material. And even if it were, the correct way to fight it is to provide peer-review and data to refute his research.

    4. Kiwi Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Radicalization

      I've seen a lot of stuff under similar situations, although for me it's because I watch a lot of so-called Christian and many on the far-right confusedly identify themselves as 'christian'. Doesn't make me any more likely to believe or follow their stuff, does give me better knowledge and understanding of what is out there. "Know your enemy" 'n all that.

      The way to defeat ignorant and despicable ideology is through exposing and ridiculing it, not hiding it away and saying "this content is too dangerous for you to see".

      Oh for a billion upvotes and an endless supply of your favourite beverages! When you dig around inside the walls of your house or car you find decay that needs to be dealt with. When you paint over it, the decay is still there, things are still rotten, but you can do nothing about it until the house collapses.

      Likewise with extreme viewpoints. Bringing them into the light, mocking them and showing the holder the error of their ways and the reality of the matter often (probably usually) effectively brings about lasting change and improvements for everyone. Hiding them away just lets them fester until it's time for the sirens to shatter our peace again.

  3. beast666

    I was radicalised by Jack Dorsey

    Dude is edgy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I was radicalised by El Reg

      I'd never heard of Jordan Peterson until I read the comments on here...

  4. Jonjonz

    Alt Right is PC for Rascist, lets call them racist to be clear

    Stop using the euphemism alt-right to refer to racism, that just enables the racist.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alt Right is PC for Rascist, lets call them racist to be clear

      Ah, the classic loony lefty smear.

      1. BigSLitleP Silver badge

        Re: Alt Right is PC for Rascist, lets call them racist to be clear

        Except for the fact that it's one of the defining characteristics for alt-right......

        https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alt-right

        1. Baldrickk Silver badge

          Re: Alt Right is PC for Rascist, lets call them racist to be clear

          It may be a characteristic, but not the only one? So if it is just racist, then we should call it that. If it encompasses more than that, then alt-right is the term to use. Right?

          (or should that be "AltGr")

    2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    3. jrd

      Re: Alt Right is PC for Rascist, lets call them racist to be clear

      "Stop using the euphemism alt-right to refer to racism, that just enables the racist."

      Problem is, who gets to assign the labels and who gets to decide what they mean? I remember a time when people described themselves as "alt right" to mean they had right of centre views but did not align themselves with existing right-wing groups (such as the Republicans). These were often libertarian, free-market, minimal-government types, and there was no implication that they were also neo-Nazis or white supremacists.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Alt Right is PC for Rascist, lets call them racist to be clear

        These were often libertarian, free-market, minimal-government types, and there was no implication that they were also neo-Nazis or white supremacists.

        It's just part of the way language gets weaponised for political purposes. If you're a far-left communist with a poster of Stalin, and a handy style guide that came free with your dog whistle, then anyone else appears right wing. If you're pro-big government and strict population control, then lable libertarians as alt-right, then conflate that with racist. It's a handy way to demonise your opposition when you're unable to win an argument using reason & logic.

        It's happened with Brexit, ie those that voted leave are automatically assumed old, white, stupid racists, not libertarians like say, Terry Christian. So chant stuff like 'stop the coup' and don't think about coups being overthrowing a government, which is what the Remnants want to do because they lost a democratic vote. It also happened with cAGW propaganda. First we were 'sceptics', then people twigged that scientists were supposed to be sceptical, so rebranded 'deniers' with the obvious holocaust connotations.

        It's nothing new, just this generation's take on McCarthyism

        1. BigSLitleP Silver badge

          Re: Alt Right is PC for Rascist, lets call them racist to be clear

          "It's happened with Brexit, ie those that voted leave are automatically assumed old, white, stupid racists, not libertarians like say, Terry Christian. "

          When polled, the majority of Brexit voters were White OAPs with poor educational backgrounds. I'm not going to bandy about "racist", that's a lot harder to prove and doesn't add anything to the conversation. From my point of view, libertarianism is one of the dumbest things to come about in recent years. The fact that you don't understand climate change puts you quite squarely in the demographic for all the above.

          When the shoe fits....

          Also, "this generation's take on McCarthyism"? Really? That shows you didn't live through that particular time period.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Alt Right is PC for Rascist, lets call them racist to be clear

            From my point of view, libertarianism is one of the dumbest things to come about in recent years.

            You prefer authoritairianism? Isn't that.. a bit facist?

            The fact that you don't understand climate change puts you quite squarely in the demographic for all the above.

            Oh, I suspect I understand it a whole lot better than you do.. But then we're not really supposed to understand it, just accept it, and all the social & political changes that come packaged with it.. And of course if you dare challenge or question it, the useful idiots will try to shout you down. A bit like Obama, who once used the '97%' meme without understanding where that came from.

            Also, "this generation's take on McCarthyism"? Really? That shows you didn't live through that particular time period.

            Neither did most of the useful idiots using identical tactics to denounce and deplatform their political opponents. Even dusting off some of the original material, ie it was Russia's fault Clinton didn't win, not problems with the Democrat's chosen candidate. Come 2020, it'll be different! Biden's the perfect candidate to represent those ordinary Americans.

            1. bombastic bob Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Alt Right is PC for Rascist, lets call them racist to be clear

              "From my point of view, libertarianism is one of the dumbest things to come about in recent years."

              Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

              Keep in mind that true libertarianism is to minimize government intervention into your life, not eliminate it. So a true libertarian would also believe that everyone should mind his OWN business, live and let live, and NOT be a pain in the butt to the rest of society (like imposing his "rights" upon others, getting all bent over use of pronouns or "offensive" terms, demanding all of society bend to political correctness, yotta yotta).

              In other words, I think libertarianism is that natural human state when people are behaving in a SANE manner. Laws and regulations are only necessary to prevent abuses. when INSTEAD they become "impose the will of the ruler upon the ruled", such laws should be ELIMINATED. This is what libertarianism is all about.

              It assumes that people are basically decent law abiding citizens who want the best for their own lives and the lives of their family. It assumes that people will behave and work towards their own bests interests when the consequences for bad behavior have NOT been eliminated nor the bad behavior excused. It also assumes that crime should be punished, that regulations should be enforced, and that society is more orderly when a minimal amount of regulation is present to ensure it.

              Anything other than what I just said, unless I forgot something important, isn't libertarianism. It's something else, like anarchy or liberalism or social activism. Or maybe it's just the pot-heads wanting legal marijuana, and not caring about anything else. Whatever. Those people are LOONS anyway.

              So yeah it might help to understand what libertarianism really is BEFORE saying it's "unintelligent" or "the dumbest thing" etc.. Because, chances are, you actually want what I just described...

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Re: Alt Right is PC for Rascist, lets call them racist to be clear

                In other words, I think libertarianism is that natural human state when people are behaving in a SANE manner. Laws and regulations are only necessary to prevent abuses. when INSTEAD they become "impose the will of the ruler upon the ruled", such laws should be ELIMINATED. This is what libertarianism is all about.

                It's why fans of big government don't like libertarians. It would create mass unemployment, even if that meant some 'liberal' US states might avoid bankruptcy due to unfunded pension liabilities. It's also true for 'real' anarchy, ie do what you want as long as it doesn't intefere with anyone else's life. Governments love interfering, so hate libertarianism and anarchy.. They are very much the self-preservation society, and the (anti-)social media platforms are just a way to maintain that order.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: Alt Right is PC for Rascist, lets call them racist to be clear

      I don't think you fully understand this.

      If you were to spend time reading alt-right posts on various boards, maybe 4chan's "/pol" (which is not pure alt-right, but has a lot of alt-right in it) you'll see that many (or even most) people just say what they want for the shock value (or trolling). But sometimes a regular poster goes full-blown wacko IRL (it's happened a couple of times).

      On youtube, I doubt you'll see more than the occasional pretenders and wannabes. The _real_ wackos end up arrested and make the 5PM news. Fortunately, not so many of those.

      In My Bombastic Opinion, Alt-right is really just a reaction to the left's PC BULLYING. It'll stop when it's no longer "shocking". And when the trolling no longer works.

  5. sum_of_squares
    Devil

    So basically the key findings are:

    1) People don't get radical overnight. Instead they start to find a topic interesting and dig deeper.

    2) The YouTube algorithm does exactly what it is intended to do: guessing what people want to see next.

    That's a click bait study if I ever saw one..

    1. BigSLitleP Silver badge

      Objectively, you're kinda right. I think it's more the algorithm is very aggressive about it. I watched a video on a particular stupid british white supremacist that has quite a large following. The next video it showed me was a Polish video of one of their far right political parties, saying that muslims needed to be kicked out of the country because white Polish were fighting for their identity.

      That's a big leap and I personally (with absolutely no evidence apart from one anecdote!) think that may be the issue.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        That's really stupid.

        What it should have done is shown you a video for the brands most often bought by viewers of the British facist

        YouTube exists to make money for us shareholders, not to serve the needs of its customers

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      "click bait"

      a nice summary of alt-right. good job!

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      That's a click bait study if I ever saw one

      Sigh.

      There are widespread claims1 that YouTube radicalizes some users. Those claims are generally poorly supported. This study seeks to provide evidence, using a documented methodology,2 for or against that thesis.

      That's valuable regardless of whether the thesis is correct. That's how research works: we find a question that's of interest to an audience, and we then we try to find evidence supporting one or another answer to that question.

      Maybe you think the answer is obvious. Well, guess what, Sunshine: your opinion isn't worth any more than those of the other people making unsupported claims about the matter, and probably less than some. On the other hand, here we have some people who actually put some work into answering it. So perhaps you should have a little respect for what they've done.3

      1OK, here's a citation.

      2Whether the methodology is sound is a separate question.

      3But you won't, will you? Because being a superior know-it-all ass is par for Reg commentators.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. sum_of_squares

        My former text was too long.

        Consider the following facts:

        - "Correlation does not imply causation" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation)

        - Reliability: The internal reliability of the study seems pretty bad (i.e. no randomization at all and there are other likely explanations for this relationship), the external reliability is unclear (is this related to YouTube users only?).

        - Can they replicate it?

        - Do they have a comparison group? (i.e. did they check if "YouTube left-wing people" become more left? Or did they compare against non-YouTube right-wing people?)

        - Validity: Did they measure "YouTube makes you more radical" or just "Video platforms makes you more radical" or simply "the internet makes you more radical"?

        So many unclear questions. So no, I don't have too much respect for studies only because they throw data together. If people would be more careful with what they claim then this world would be a better place.

  6. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would be interesting to see this study on the Far Left, but I doubt that will happen

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think I've been radicalized by TheRegister.co.uk

    I've ditched any and all social media accounts, installed Linux on my laptop and have just compiled an installable zip of Lineage OS with the latest security updates for my phone.

    1. LeeLynx

      Re: I think I've been radicalized by TheRegister.co.uk

      I, for one, welcome our new electric-cattle-prod-wielding masters.

  9. Baldrickk Silver badge

    I'm not really sure that we can really point the finger at YouTube too much here.

    Think about it this way - take a video - any video, on any topic. For the purposes of discussion, lets use... an introduction to cross-stiching.

    Now, we need to come up with suggestions for other videos a viewer of this video will watch.

    We end up with a pool of similar videos, some "a little lighter" and some "a bit more intense".

    User quite likes this topic, so eventually, they'll end up clicking on that "Advanced cross-stiching tips and tricks" video.

    Now, we present similar videos to this one... again, some a little lighter, and some a bit more intense. Eventually, they'll click on the link to "cross stitching tricks to impress your friends" - now we're getting somewhere. This is a bit heavier, and the suggested videos are all from a "darker" suggestion pool than the first.

    Now, not all viewers will reach that level, and will take different times to get there, but you can follow a chain to reach the more "edgy" content.

    Trying to stop this would be actively preventing people from finding certain viewpoints, which would be censorship - probably not where we want to go.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      I'm not really sure that we can really point the finger at YouTube too much here.

      It's their fault for radicalising people! Their algorithms are designed for that purpose, which kinda gets bad if someone's browsing history is taken into consideration for investigations/prosecutions/vetting etc etc.

      Think about it this way - take a video - any video, on any topic. For the purposes of discussion, lets use... an introduction to cross-stiching.

      Now, we need to come up with suggestions for other videos a viewer of this video will watch.

      Which is where Google's f'ng useless. So I have 18 'recommended' videos in my browser. Generally they're the same videos every time I check. So for whatever reason, it throws up one about cross-stitching. If I have no interest in that subject, I can't tell YT to recommend me something else. If you click on a 'recommended' video, YT's AlGorithm will think you want even more videos on the same subject 'recommended' to you.. which gets really f'ng annoying.

      Ok, so was a lot worse a couple of weeks ago when YT decided I really wanted a much smaller selection of recommendations & decided to use a thumb-friendly/large thumbnail template, which was also really f'ng annoying when I have 3x30" monitors..

      Now, not all viewers will reach that level, and will take different times to get there, but you can follow a chain to reach the more "edgy" content.

      Or you can use bias to try to navigate people away from 'edgy' content towards Google-approved and ideologically sound content. If they try to subvert this re-conditioning, then obviously those people are up to no good..

      1. Kiwi Silver badge

        If I have no interest in that subject, I can't tell YT to recommend me something else.

        On Android, and I assume on a logged-in PC, there's a mechanism (via a form of 'hamburger menu' IIRC) to mark a video as "not interested".

        I've found when I strayed into dash-cam territory that it can be effective in getting that genre out of the recommendations fairly quickly.

        (Logging in to YT or other google 'services' is NOT something I recommend one does lightly - tor on top of 3 layers of vpn, using a computer that's already atop a nice pile of thermite is close to safe)

  10. Rudolph Hucker the Third
    Joke

    As Titania McGrath has already and eloquently Tweeted, the best way to defend Democracy and Free Speech is to block Popularist voting and ban any opinions we disagree with. Otherwise "bad people" get listened to. And don't get sucked into the oxymoron of everything being alt-right (if you are alt-left).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think radicalizing is being overused

    One mans radicalization is anothers 'being told the truth about the world and the way it works and getting angry about the engrained injustice and imbalance and wanting to do something about fixing it'. Like those crazy amnesty, greenpeace, and XR radicals.

  12. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The Military Frankenstein Monster Wants to Play Against the Barbra Streisand Effect

    What could possibly go wrong, other than everything further collapsing much more quickly than before .... when the beast is discovered and uncovered as an impotent illiterate paper tiger and fatally wounded mad dog bull in a china shop in the Total Information Awareness Space ...... https://www.rt.com/usa/467836-darpa-deepfakes-disinfo-malicious-dissent/

    Smarter Competition and Effective Virtual Opposition will welcome their enemies own identification of troublesome unbeatable memes and themes to reinforce and deeper employ.

  13. Steve Graham

    It's deliberate

    I don't retain cookies between sessions, so if I visit YouTube, it's as a virgin user. And the "recommended for you" videos often include right-wing propaganda. There was even a period when Stephen Yaxley-Dickhead's "Tommy Robinson" entire channel of racist bullshit was recommended. Then there was one of medical expert Doctor Jacob Rees-Muppet "being clever" that came up all the time.

    Obviously, Youtube promotes paid content. And obviously, the far-right movements pay to get people onto the radicalizing escalator.

    1. DCFusor Silver badge

      Re: It's deliberate

      If you think cookies are the only way they know it's you, you have one heck of a lot to learn about big data's gathering techniques.

  14. dwieske

    and so it happens that el reg turns into another fake-news-rag, in fact it it clear it radicalises to the left, as was illustrated by a hilarious article in the NYT where a moderate moved slightly right (oh the horror), to end up being a leftwind extremist....

  15. dwieske

    posting garbage conclusions from garbage research using nonsensical methodology = fake news

    seriously, wtf is up at the register????? you would expect the reg to EXPOSE the absolute nonsense behind this "research" as it has been exposed by other journalists already.... (tim pool eg.)

  16. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Fading

      And if you are UEFI?

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  17. BuckeyeB
    Holmes

    The Problem Here

    The problem is that they are lumping in right wing with ALT-Right, which have nothing to do with each other. The ALT-Right's philosophies are more in line with leftist philosophies than with conservative ones. So they end up blocking mainstream conservative content and calling it ALT-Right. That's the reason for all the controversy about this.

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