YouTube is facing public anger after tinkering with subscription feeds. The video streaming company claims it’s merely trying to help users “find the videos they want to watch,” but the users and creators are not amused.
The new subscription algorithm started displaying videos in a non-chronological order, and it didn’t sit well with some users. Having received complaints on Twitter, the YouTube team said the platform was “currently experimenting with how to show content in the subs feed.”
“We find that some viewers are able to more easily find the videos they want to watch when we order the subs feed in a personalized order vs always showing most recent video first,”the company said.
The sub feed was the last place that was untouched by YouTube’s “optimization”. Now YT can make ur channel completely invisible even to ur own subscribers. Stop wasting our time @TeamYouTube – just erase the sub button already and show us what you want us to watch. pic.twitter.com/FKcE3XUplc
— Ethan Klein (@h3h3productions) 24 мая 2018 г.
“Stop wasting our time,” said popular YouTube blogger Ethan Klein, “just erase the sub button already and show us what you want us to watch.”
British politician Nigel Farage was also alarmed by the new policy, remarking on the tendency of big social media to try “to control what you see, hear and think.”
“They are publishing companies with their own editorial positions and should be judged accordingly,” he said.
Big social media wants to control what you see, hear and think. They are now publishing companies with their own editorial positions – and should be judged accordingly. https://t.co/fuIASg59Ah
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) 24 мая 2018 г.
Many on Twitter expressed fear that the new algorithm was neither experimental nor temporary, but was a long time in development and will most likely be here to stay.
They’ve been working on this for a very long time behind the scenes so I’m scared it will be implemented permanently. Even though you can opt out, I was told if rolled out everyone would be opted in by default. Negative impact on everyone. Don’t do this YouTube.
— Ben (@TrustedFlagger) 24 мая 2018 г.
I like how they don’t even bother to hide their agenda anymore
— Colossal is Crazy 🤡 (@massiveismental) 24 мая 2018 г.
Several YouTube creators alo decried the new rules, saying they could destroy their channels and chase the most creative of them off. Some of them confessed that they had a sneaking suspicion something like this was coming.
“Every subfeed decision for the past 6 years has slowly destroyed my channel,” said one creator, named Whizzy Waiter. “I have felt for a long time that it’s building towards this.”
Every subfeed decision for the past 6 years has slowly destroyed my channel. I have felt for a long time that it’s building towards this.
— Wheezy Waiter (@wheezywaiter) 24 мая 2018 г.
nice to see their endgame is finally going public
get that cash money from those vloggers Youtube
— Hannah Rutherford 👑 (@lomadia) 24 мая 2018 г.
It’s like youtube wants all their creators to stop using their platform already JFC
— 🍑 Kenzie Logan 🍑 (@itsboobafett) 24 мая 2018 г.
YouTube, which was bought out by Google years ago and is now a subsidiary of its parent company Alphabet, is not the first social media platform experimenting with the idea of knowing better than its users what they want to see or hear.
Twitter has also changed its algorithm, so that instead of presenting a straightforward newsfeed it prioritizes tweets that have received prior attention and may have a greater chance of being retweeted or mentioned.
Facebook says all that pesky news in your feed is making you cranky. Also, fake news is hard to fix. So let’s get rid of news in your feed!
I cannot overstate how much Facebook is just screwing our news operations and our democracy over and over and over. https://t.co/TFQ5NlBqEn
— Audrey Cooper (@audreycoopersf) 12 января 2018 г.
Facebook recently introduced sweeping changes of its news feed policy, saying they were designed to make it more about “meaningful” human interaction instead of promoting businesses and news updates.
The updated news feed algorithm is meant to “predict” what posts any given user may want to talk about or share with friends, that will be likely “to spark a conversation.” The company is not saying as to how it would judge that.
Facebook has also partnered up with mainstream media outlets to rank “trusted” news content posted on the platform and enlisted the Atlantic Council’s digital researchers to watch out for “misinformation and foreign interference” during “elections and other highly sensitive moments.”
Both decisions have provoked controversy, as the fact-checkers are overwhelmingly leaning left, and the NATO-affiliated think tank has a habit of labeling any dissenters “Russian bots” or “trolls” despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Social media have come under increased scrutiny by Congress after the 2016 presidential campaign, with Democrats and many media outlets supporting Hillary Clinton claiming that “fake news” and foreign advertising somehow robbed her of the expected victory.