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Title: "It is just a flu": Assessing the Effect of Watch History on YouTube's Pseudoscientific Video Recommendations
Authors: Papadamou, Kostantinos 
Zannettou, Savvas 
Blackburn, Jeremy 
De Cristofaro, Emiliano 
Stringhini, Gianluca 
Sirivianos, Michael 
Major Field of Science: Engineering and Technology
Field Category: Computer and Information Sciences
Keywords: YouTube;YouTube Videos;YouTube's Recommendation Algorithm;Science;Pseudoscience;Pseudoscientific Misinformation;Watch History;COVID-19;Anti-vaccination;Anti-mask;Flat Earth
Issue Date: Jul-2022
Source: 16th International AAAI Conference On Web And Social Media, 2022, 6-9 June, Atlanta, Georgia
Conference: International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media 
Abstract: The role played by YouTube's recommendation algorithm in unwittingly promoting misinformation and conspiracy theories is not entirely understood. Yet, this can have dire real-world consequences, especially when pseudoscientific content is promoted to users at critical times, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In this paper, we set out to characterize and detect pseudoscientific misinformation on YouTube. We collect 6.6K videos related to COVID-19, the Flat Earth theory, as well as the anti-vaccination and anti-mask movements. Using crowdsourcing, we annotate them as pseudoscience, legitimate science, or irrelevant and train a deep learning classifier to detect pseudoscientific videos with an accuracy of 0.79. We quantify user exposure to this content on various parts of the platform and how this exposure changes based on the user's watch history. We find that YouTube suggests more pseudoscientific content regarding traditional pseudoscientific topics (e.g., flat earth, anti-vaccination) than for emerging ones (like COVID-19). At the same time, these recommendations are more common on the search results page than on a user's homepage or in the recommendation section when actively watching videos. Finally, we shed light on how a user's watch history substantially affects the type of recommended videos.
Description: To appear at the 16th International Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM 2022). This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program under the CONCORDIA project (Grant Agreement No. 830927), and from the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) under the CYberSafety II project (Grant Agreement No. 1614254).
Type: Conference Papers
Affiliation : Cyprus University of Technology 
University College London 
Max Planck Institute 
Binghamton University 
Boston University 
Appears in Collections:Δημοσιεύσεις σε συνέδρια /Conference papers or poster or presentation

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