The so-called “impossible” happened: YouTube is finally taking steps to become more transparent. YouTube, required by the EU Digital Services Act, is now opening the doors to independent research — information that will empower regulators and inform YouTube’s viewers. For years, YouTube’s algorithm has been a black box, capable of radicalizing and polarizing users but incapable of allowing outside scrutiny. Mozilla is delighted to see this long-awaited milestone in accountability for the globally dominant platform.
In 2019, Mozilla launched our campaign calling on YouTube to allow for independent research into the platform. We knew that this effort would take many years, a variety of tactics, and sustained public pressure in order to be successful. Since then, we’ve advised policymakers, built transparency tools, crowdsourced research, launched petitions, and more.
Alphabet’s decision to provide civil society researchers and others with access to crucial YouTube data (and data from other services) is made possible by Article 40, paragraph 12 of the DSA — a mechanism Mozilla has been advocating loudly for. Mozilla advised EU policymakers crafting the DSA. We stressed the importance of researcher access to public data, safe harbor, and, critically, including civil society researchers in this scope. And in June 2023, Mozilla and several allies outlined five recommendations for Article 40.12 implementation.
Mozilla is delighted to see this long-awaited milestone in accountability for YouTube.
Ashley Boyd, SVP Global Advocacy, Mozilla
This victory for data access belongs to the tens of thousands of internet users who donated data to RegretsReporter, signed petitions, and publicly shared their experiences with YouTube’s algorithm; and by the dozens of organizations who signed Mozilla’s 40.12 implementation recommendations.
Now, Mozilla will work to ensure YouTube and all other “Very Large Online Platforms and Search Engines” adhere to the spirit of this law. And, that this new data-sharing mandate enables further research and positive changes.