YouTube Helps to Radicalize Young People
Social media is often said to be responsible for radicalizing a lot of young men into extremism. However, a newer school of thoughts, have stated that radicalization of young men is driven, not just by social media, but by a complex stew of emotional, economic and political elements, many having nothing to do with social media.
A lot of YouTube critics and independent researchers however, are of the opinion that YouTube has inadvertently created an easy but dangerous trail to extremism by combining two things: “a business model that rewards provocative videos with exposure and advertising dollars, and an algorithm that guides users down personalized paths meant to keep them glued to their screens.”
The case of Caleb Cain, a college dropout looking for direction, was shared on an article on The New York Times. Cain had turned to YouTube in search of new hobbies soon after dropping out of college.
Within a short while, he had been pulled into the twisted world of the typical far-right activist, watching thousands of videos filled with conspiracy theories, misogyny and racism.
“I was brainwashed.” He says
The article reports that during his stint on Youtube, Cain watched a total of over 12, 000 videos, most of which were about far-right agenda.
“I fell down the alt-right rabbit hole,” he said “I just kept falling deeper and deeper into this, and it appealed to me because it made me feel a sense of belonging,” he said.
Cain explains that he let this radicals convince him to a point were he began to believe that Western civilization was under threat from Muslim immigrants and cultural Marxists, that innate I.Q. differences explained racial disparities, and that feminism was a dangerous ideology.
“When I found this stuff, I felt like I was chasing uncomfortable truths,” he told the interviewer from NYTimes. “I felt like it was giving me power and respect and authority.”
A lot of people have in recent times, criticized YouTube for hosting content created by radical actors. What’s worse is the lackadaisical attitude with which the company has often handled this criticism.
Youtube's policies on harassment and hate speech and its enforcement of these policies faced public scrutiny in June 2018, after Vox journalist and YouTube host Carlos Maza expressed his frustration with ongoing personal attacks he has faced from popular fellow YouTuber Steven Crowder.
Maza shared this on Twitter: “So, I have pretty thick skin when it comes to online harassment, but something has been really bothering me.”“Since I started working at Vox, Steven Crowder has been making video after video "debunking" Strikethrough. Every single video has included repeated, overt attacks on my sexual orientation and ethnicity.”
He then shared a video where Crowder could be seen attacking his person. A lot of people reacted to this video, questioning why Youtube has for so long, allowed the bullying to go on. YouTube shocked everyone when the giant sharing company responded stating that Crowder's videos did not violate any of the company's policies. This begs the question, what kind of policies guide YouTube.
A Google employee who spoke anonymously to The Verge, described YouTube’s decision to leave Crowder’s videos up, as “the latest in a long series of really, really shitty behavior and double-talking on the part of my employer as pertains to anything to do with queer shit.”