University of Exeter, Instituto Vero, and Mozilla will study the spread of election disinformation on YouTube
Research will be powered by Mozilla’s RegretsReporter browser extension and thousands of volunteers
(BRAZIL | OCTOBER 12, 2022) – How YouTube is influencing the Brazilian federal elections in October 2022 — and potentially contributing to a disinformation media ecosystem— will be the focus of an ambitious research project by University of Exeter, Instituto Vero, and Mozilla launching today.
The three organizations are crowdsourcing a map of all Brazilian election content on YouTube. The map will provide an unprecedented view into which narratives are trending on the platform, which videos are being algorithmically amplified, and the people and motivations behind all this content. The map will include mass media videos, fringe conspiracy theory videos, and everything in between. Learn more at https://www.vero.org.br/viupolitica
The project will be fueled by Mozilla’s RegretsReporter browser extension, which turns YouTube users into YouTube watchdogs. Originally launched in 2020, RegretsReporter is a tool that enables large-scale crowdsourced research, such as a study that previously revealed that YouTube recommended videos that violate its very own policies.
With Mozilla, University of Exeter has customized the browser extension, allowing users in Brazil to tag election-related videos along with the recommendations leading to and from each video.
Says Caio Machado, Executive Director at Instituto Vero: “Personalization on YouTube is difficult to study without access to real video data – but RegretsReporter allows us to crowdsource that kind of data from tens of thousands of participants. We are excited to partner with researchers at University of Exeter and Mozilla who are using RegretsReporter to study how election narratives spread on YouTube in Brazil. This will be the first study of its kind, setting a precedent for future research into how platforms deal with elections.”
This will be the first study of its kind, setting a precedent for future research into how platforms deal with elections.
Caio Machado, Executive Director at Instituto Vero
Says Becca Ricks, Senior Researcher at Mozilla: “It’s difficult for researchers to study platform dynamics without access to meaningful data – especially during election cycles, when tactics and narratives change very quickly. RegretsReporter’s crowdsourced approach enables this kind of vital research, powered by a large, global community of participants.”
Contributors to the dataset will include academic researchers, Brazilian YouTubers and their audiences, and everyday YouTube users. RegretsReporter already has more than 40,000 users.
Findings from the research will be presented in November and December 2022.
The research will also pay special attention to issues of racial justice and misogyny in YouTube content, and will be supported by an advisory board of eight experts working on race and gender in Brazil.