Mozilla's New Project TheirTube Allows Users to Experience How YouTube's Landing Page Looks for Six Personas

You may have seen social media posts from your climate-change-denying friends or ultra-liberal friends, and have wondered how they came to some particular conclusions. Mozilla’s new project offers a glance at theoretical YouTube homepages for people in six categories.

The new project called TheirTube was created by an Amsterdam-based creative developer Tomo Kihara. Mozilla created suggestion bubbles for six personas based on interviews with real YouTube users. The new project presents the YouTube landing page from the viewpoint of six personas including prepper, liberal, climate denier, conservative, conspiracist, and fruitarian.

Mozilla hopes to demonstrate how the recommendation algorithm of YouTube could confirm some particular biases. According to Mozilla, each persona was informed by interviews with real YouTube users who experienced similar suggestion bubbles. Mozilla created six different YouTube accounts to simulate the subscriptions and viewing habits of those users.

The six example homepages display what the recommendation algorithm of YouTube recommends to any given persona each day. YouTube recommends videos such as ‘What is really inside your vitamins and supplements’ to the fruitarian account, while the platform recommends videos such as ‘COVID-911-INSURGENCY- WAKEUP CALL’ to the conspiracist account.

Videos recommended to the prepper account will explore apocalyptic scenarios and how people can ‘prepare’ for such apocalyptic scenarios. YouTube recommends videos that tend to support notions such as multiculturalism and feminism to the liberal account, while the conservative account sees clips that criticize these ideologies. The conspiracist account is suggested those videos that suggest that global events are actually conspiracies. Lastly, the climate denier account will see clips that ‘debunk’ scientific evidence about global warming.

Although recommended clips are not always necessarily fake or misleading, Mozilla notes that YouTube has designed its algorithm to amplify content that will keep users clicking, even if the content is ‘radical.’ The TheirTube project also raises questions such as what if platforms were more transparent about the suggestion bubbles they created. Tomo Kihara stated that is it possible to gain a better perspective of your suggestion environment if you look at the recommendation bubbles of other users.

Mozilla wrote in a blog post that the recommendation algorithm of YouTube pays close attention to what users watch on the platform, and then suggest other clips that users might enjoy. YouTube’s recommendation algorithm is extremely powerful and it accounts for 70% of videos watched on the Google-owned platform. This algorithm has also been criticized for suggesting conspiracy clips rife with misleading information, and clips featuring minors.

Read next: YouTube Is Testing an Updated Audience Retention Chart, and Creators Will Now See a Listing of Other Clips Their Viewers Have Watched
Previous Post Next Post