Investigation 1: Teenage Gamer Personas

Pulling Back the Curtain: An Exploration of YouTube’s Recommendation Algorithm

Author: Aoife Gallagher

Published: 18 June 2024

This is the first investigation in ISD’s Pulling Back the Curtain series which explores different aspects of YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. The series consists of four separate investigations examining the recommendations sent to eight U.S.-based YouTube accounts registered with varying ages, genders, and interests over one month. This report examines the recommendations sent to two teenager accounts with an interest in gaming. 

The second investigation examines accounts with an interest in “male lifestyle gurus”. The third explores accounts with an interest in “Mommy vloggers”, while investigation four looks into the recommendations sent to users with an interest in Spanish language news. 

An executive summary summarizes the findings across all four investigations and provides an overview of the project and platform policy recommendations

Aoife Gallagher is a Senior Analyst on ISD’s Digital Analysis Unit, focusing on the intersection between far-right extremism, disinformation and conspiracy theories and using a mixture of data analysis, open source intelligence and investigative techniques to understand the online ecosystem where these ideas flourish and spread. Previously, Aoife was a journalist with the online news agency, Storyful. She is the author of the book Web of Lies – The Lure and Danger of Conspiracy Theories and co-author of the ISD reports The Genesis of a Conspiracy Theory and Ill Advice: A Case Study in Facebook’s Failure to Tackle COVID-19 Disinformation.  

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Pulling Back the Curtain: An Exploration of YouTube’s Recommendation Algorithm

This is the executive summary of ISD’s Pulling Back the Curtain series which explores different aspects of YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. The series consists of four separate investigations examining the recommendations sent to eight U.S.-based YouTube accounts registered with varying ages, genders, and interests over one month. This report summarizes the findings across all four investigations and provides an overview of the project and platform policy recommendations.

Investigation 4: Spanish-Language News Consumers

This is the fourth investigation in ISD’s Pulling Back the Curtain series which explores different aspects of YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. The series consists of four separate investigations examining the recommendations sent to eight U.S.-based YouTube accounts registered with varying ages, genders, and interests over one month. This report examines the recommendations sent to two accounts with an interest in Spanish langauge news.