The Internet as an echo chamber: political filter bubble is quickly created on YouTube

Its easy to create your own filter bubble on YouTube. Anyone watching political videos on YouTube will immediately get more videos from those parties on their front page. Moreover, the smart algorithms of the video platform devise which related videos are even more suitable for you, based on your viewing behaviour, concludes DeccEit after joint research with Pointer and De Groene Amsterdammer.

Videos of parties from outside your bubble, are virtually non-existent. With the exception of Forum for Democracy: videos from that party appear on all front pages, although they most often pass by when you watch FVD movies yourself. Why FVD videos pop up so often is not clear.

Youtube accounts created by yourself

For this study, we collected the recommendations we received on six different YouTube accounts for four weeks, which we created specifically for this study and all consciously provided with politically colored viewing behaviour (see also the accountability at the bottom of this article).

More than half of all six front pages are filled with all kinds of neutral videos: from sports clips and music to explanations and meditation films. Also, videos from established media appear on all timelines. YouTube owner Google tells us that it makes a conscious effort to do so. Over the past few years, we have invested enormously to make YouTube a more reliable source of news and information.

Your YouTube front page is largely determined by your own viewing behavior. For example, those who watch mostly videos from Forum for Democracy, JA21 and Party for Freedom will then be recommended videos from those parties. If you are watching videos from left-wing parties, you will immediately see suggestions for viewing more videos from those parties.

Those political videos are complemented by matching videos from other channels. For example, watching videos of Christian parties leads to a range of religiously tinted videos: from psalms to church services. Anyone who watches FVD and PVV videos will often encounter vloggers and right-hand signature media, channels where fragments of right-wing politicians are shared and accounts where there is a lot of criticism of the corona measures.

The

fact that you see so many videos in your own street is a risk for some people, says media researcher Judith Möller of the University of Amsterdam. Most Dutch people like to be informed in a variety of ways.

If people only watch videos that confirm their own right, they can be sucked into a filter bubble. People like to be confirmed in their own right, and we see that algorithms can reinforce that, says Professor of Psychology Paul van Lange of the Free University.

However, the effects on the ballot box of social media are small and traditional media still reach many people. Möller: But for people with dissenting opinions, shared by few people, a filter bubble can make it seem as if many people share that opinion.

In addition, your own worldview is confirmed by that dynamics, argues psychologist Roos Vonk. You think, see, Im right. Many people dont take into account all the videos they dont see.

At the same time, the filter bubble is not absolute. Thus, the right-oriented GeenStijl also appears in the bubble of Bij1, NIDA and Think. The same goes for videos of the coronasceptic Virus Truth.

Also in all filter bubbles at least one video with a conspiracy or misinformation passed, especially in the bubble of Forum voor Democracy and the PVV and in the bubble of NIDA, Bij1 and Think. Those videos didnt pass by at all in a bubble without political videos.

In general terms, our systems do not refer to more niche content on average, says the Google spokesman. In practice, they refer to more popular videos, as is shown in this research.

The question is whether people click on those videos once theyre in a filter bubble. People are not consciously looking for derape of their ideas, says Vonk.

By just watching videos of like-minded people, people can radicalize. By watching videos you wont suddenly think completely different about a subject. But within your own acceptance zone, as we call it, your opinion can gradually shift more and more.

And that really can happen to anyone, she emphasizes. Never think: I am nuanced, that does not happen to me.