YouTube Regrets

Regrets! We all have them.

Like that time at 2 a.m. when I searched YouTube for “Did aliens build Stonehenge?” and ever since, my YouTube recommendations have been a mess: Roswell, wormholes, Illuminati. I never intended for that to happen.

YouTube’s recommendation engine can lead users down bizarre rabbit holes — and they’re not always harmless. Recently, a woman who fell asleep watching beauty vlogs shared that she woke up to conspiracy videos about Area 51. One YouTube search on dealing with depression by a struggling young man led him to places where content creators seek out the most vulnerable to share their messages of hate and violence.

As our researchers here at Mozilla urge YouTube to be more open about how this happens and find out how their recommendations can be made less harmful, we want to hear your YouTube regrets. What is the one video you clicked on that suddenly sent you down a YouTube wormhole you didn’t intend to go down or altered your recommendations for the worse?

In two weeks, we’ll have a meeting with YouTube. At this meeting we plan to ask them to make a serious commitment to work with researchers and fix the problem of harmful content amplified by their recommendation algorithm. Your stories will help us document the real experiences of YouTube users so we can put pressure on them to recommend responsibly. No regrets!

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