How to reduce YouTube's Bias for Mainstream Media
De-Mainstream YouTube is a browser extension for Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and other browsers based on Firefox or Chromium code, that reduces the bias of the YouTube algorithm in regards to mainstream media.
YouTube's algorithm has changed significantly in the past couple of years. What you may have noticed is that the site tends to favor certain publishers -- usually larger well established ones -- and that this is reflected in the site's trending section and when you search for content on the site.
Tip: check out SponsorBlock for YouTube if you want to skip sponsored ads in YouTube videos.
De-Mainstream YouTube comes with two main features to address this: first, by returning videos in the trending category by view count and second, through integration of a blocklist that may be used to block certain channels on YouTube.
Note that the custom blocking feature did not work at all during tests; this will hopefully get corrected in an update.
The extension requires one extra permission to work on the youtube domain. It works automatically after installation as it comes with a set of mainstream channels that it blocks outright on the site.
You can check the list with a click on the extension icon in the browser's toolbar. There you find options to deselect every channel (unblock) to start using the extension without any banned channels or to deselect individual channels instead that you like included on YouTube.Â Channels like Fox News, Buzzfeed, ESPN, The Verge, or Vox are all blocked by default by the extension.
You may notice the absence of these channels when you run searches on YouTube. While the list of channels the extension comes with may be handy for some users, the ability to block custom channels is even better, if it would work.
I tried the blocking functionality in various Firefox and Chromium versions, and it did not work in any of them. Theoretically, it allows you to block any channel that you come across so that it is excluded from results as well by the extension.
Extensions like VideoBlocker or YouTube Recommended Blocker may be used for that; then again, you may use these to block the mainstream channels you encounter as well which would make De-Mainstream YouTube superfluous.
The main thing that the extension has going for it currently is that it comes with hundreds of pre-set channels that it blocks automatically. If the developer manages to add blocking so that it actually works, it could very well become a great option for users who don't want to be exposed to mainstream sources on YouTube.
Now You: do you use YouTube regularly? Is the site biased?
I have no idea, I never see recommendations. I drag and drop the video link from search results page over MPV to play whatever video I want to play, and I search directly from my browser’s address bar. This way I don’t get to deal with browser’s inefficient video decoding.
Web Assembly it’s actually a great way to bring that performance boost that browsers lack in a lot of areas, including video decoding. Really looking forward to have more of that soon.
>inefficient video decoding
*Yawns* Hardware acceleration works on my machine without even bumping my CPU up visibly.
Time to replace that legacy hardware or use a real OS.
I use BlockTube and I can block any Youtube channel I want. I never see CNN videos.
YouTube had a perfectly well working algorithm for suggestions that highlighted content which drew a lot of activity.
Such content was – is – often controversial. It’s debatable whether it should be boosted, but in a neutral scenario that would be the case: If you see a huge gathering in public you’ll want to know what’s going on, and often it will be a crazy person or a rabble-rouser.
Large media corporations however used that phenomenon to claim that YouTube amplifies extremist content (a deliberately wrong take), which in turn was used to bully YouTube in promoting their own content. I think it’s absolutely necessary to fight back. This is an attempt of the dinosaurs to decide where the asteroid hits.
As far as Google itself is concerned, their own bias is well-established. But it is, perhaps, not as bad and academically proven as the bloated, overly expensive and completely unhinged “public” media stations of a certain country in Western Central Europe, the worst TV garbage outside of North Korea, which will now get blocked.
I’ll disagree with you on one point: I don’t think anyone is bullying Google into doing anything! :) The company is quite happy to manipulate users, and I suspect it’s also quite happy to PRETEND that complaints from third parties (legacy media, US government, etc.) have forced it to introduce new rules. Why take the flack when you can pass it onto someone else?
Here’s an example of what I mean. A few months ago, Google started putting warnings under videos by publicly-funded broadcasters, supposedly in response to calls for transparency by government and various activist groups. Ok, fair enough, let them put warnings. But notice that they don’t use the same warnings for each broadcaster. For the BBC they write “BBC is a British public broadcast service” – which sounds inoccuous – whereas for RT they write “RT is funded in whole or in part by the Russian government”. Let’s face it, this sounds pretty damned auspicious when it’s worded that way! I don’t think it’s a coincidence at all, and no one can tell me that Google was bullied into writing it that way.
If you don’t know what RT is by now (Russian propaganda aimed at nationalists, racists, homophobes, illiterates and religious – divide and conquer) just look at the comments under their videos. The same goes for Sputnik. Deliberate disinformation.
BBC? They were the last to report on Russian propaganda, so, if anything, they are just slow.
RT is not what you think it is. I agree wholeheartedly that it is used to drive an agenda, but quite often I find things on RT that are not being reported in typical Western media but that are 100% correct.
I’ll give you a concrete example. Right now I’m watching the events unfolding on the Greek-Turkish border very closely, because there’s a lot more going on here than the Western media are indicating, and the risk of all-out war between the two countries is real. (Hint: this is not about “refugees”; it’s about Erdogan’s desire for natural gas in the Mediterranean, and also a temper tantrum about his failures in Syria). For years now, Erdogan has been routinely dropping hints about ethnically cleansing the Greeks from various border islands (“We’ll push them into the sea like we did to their fathers”, an obvious hint about the 1922 ethnic cleansing). He shows images of burning Christian icons to large, jubilant crowds, and then caps off his performances with fascist salutes (the salute of the Muslim Brotherhood or the salute of the Turkish Grey Wolves). How much of this do you think I see in the Western media? NONE. There’s literally a Hitler emerging on Europe’s borders, but the Western media pretend they don’t see it. On the other hand, I do see some of it in RT from time to time. Oh, sure, they will only report it when it’s convenient to Putin (based on how much or how little pressure he wants to put on Turkey at that precise moment), but at least the reporting does sometimes happen. If I were to rely only on Western sources, I’d never see any of this stuff.
In the current crisis with the migrants, it’s RT that is talking openly about various Turkish provocations against the Greek police and military. It’s also RT that is reporting the fact that only about 4% of the migrants at the border are from Syria, and fewer than 4% are from Idlib itself (this lines up with Greek police statistics). What are the Western media doing? Well, their coverage is all about plastering images of the most desperate-looking refuggee mother and child they can find, and then follow the images with stories about poor unwanted refugees. There’s **a bit** about the Turkish manipulation / coordination of the situation, but nothing about Erdogan’s underlying motivations or his dark threats. To make it even worse, some of the Western media actually have the nerve to blame the Greeks! I read an article on Deutsche Welle (I think it’s still on their home page in fact) that argues that the Greek government is intentionally exploiting the situation to fuel ultra-nationalism! Even at face value this is an absurd claim, because Mitsotakis, the prime minister, is a liberal who fits right into the Brussels EU crowd and who has sidelined many of the conservatives of his party. Not exactly the kind of guy who will want to fuel ultra-nationalism. But what’s even funnier is that DW is trying to support their claim by quoting an inflammatory headline from a Greek newspaper that I had never heard of called “Makeleio”. I had to look that one up! The first hint to anyone who can read Greek is the name “Makeleio” itself: it means “carnage”. Hmm… Ok, DW.com is quoting a newspaper called Carnage as evidence of the Greek public mood. That’s just great. What could go wrong here? A little digging and you discover that Carnage is some kind of neo-nazi leaflet with a readership of 7. What DW has done here does not qualify as journalism.
A side note about the BBC. It isn’t just “slow”, as you say, but is actively promoting an agenda. You may or may not be aware that there is a very serious discussion taking place now about the BBC’s future, including whether it should be privatized. This discussion has emerged because of the transparently anti-Brexit editorial bias of the BBC over the last three years, and the resulting antipathy of a large section of the public (I’ve even heard a few Remainers say they’re fed up). It’s gotten to the point now where a cabinet minister can openly hint at the possibility of de-funding the BBC and he won’t face the kind of backlash he may have faced a decade ago. Whether or not privatisation will actually happen is anyone’s guess (I’m guessing “no”), but clearly a lot of the British public have lost their faith in that network.
I realize this turned into an essay. However, you decided to label RT readers as “racists” and “homophobes”, so I thought it only fair to inject a dose of reality into this debate. More likely you just don’t like the kind of things you read in RT because they go against your personal values.
Search “bill gates lockdown 10 years” on Youtube, good luck finding a channel that isn’t mainstream media in the first pages.
> What you may have noticed is that the site tends to favor certain publishers — usually larger well established ones — and that this is reflected in the site’s trending section and when you search for content on the site.
This is why I completely ignore that section. I’m not interested in 99% of the larger well established publishers, so it’s pretty much worthless to me. To a lesser degree, the same applied to YouTube’s recommendations — they tend to be pretty bad, although I will occasionally spot something interesting in there.
I’m using BlockTube and it’s great at what it’s doing. Very robust configuration options.
Block everything that repetitively gets on the trending section. So much garbage like Ace Family and James charles… I don’t get why people watch that nonsense.
I happen to visit YouTube (no account) but for either searching a video (done mostly with Qwant video search which displays mainly YouTube hosted) or for viewing channels/users I appreciate and follow.
Concerning YouTube’s front page and video suggestions I must say I’ve banned them all thanks to a dedicated Firefox extension named ‘Youtube Blinder’ because indeed as mentioned in the article, “he site tends to favor certain publishers” not to mention that I just can’t stand recommendations generally speaking.
I’ll give ‘De-Mainstream YouTube’ which might reestablish a reconciliation with YouTube. At this time YouTube home page is blank with a big logo I managed to insert with css :=)
No, I don’t use YouTube.
I may want to find a “how to” video; there was a good one for fixing a lawn mower. Some good tips for exterior painting, etc.
Sometimes I “live stream” all the birds in my front yard using OBS. Gorgeous little creatures; then, the cats come. I’ve yet to see a cat fang a bird; live entertainment.
A language refresher.
As a whole, I find video consumption exhausting and not so good for content.
So I read.
I generally don’t get my news from YouTube, but if I did, this extension is essentially the opposite of what I’d want. News should come from reliable trustworthy sources, and to me that is the mainstream media, which in theory has trained journalists who follow journalistic standards in their reporting.
If you turn off the quality control and base everything on views, you’re going to get a lot of Russian propaganda, conspiracy theories, false or inaccurate reports, and ideological extremism (Mostly right-wing). I’ll pass on that.
I also think large Internet companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, which, like it or not are now the primary source of news for way too many people, do have a social responsibility to elevate objective well-sourced journalism from established outlets that can be trusted to reliably report information. They’re big enough now that past negligence can and has influenced the course of elections and world events. If they want to stop being the story, they need to actually take more measures to elevate well-sourced objective mainstream reporting.
Of course, if people want to find other stuff, it’ll still be there- it’s not a question of barring people from saying what they want to say and viewing what they want to view. It’s just a question of what should be pushed to people who aren’t looking for anything in particular, and I think there the most responsible thing to do would be to elevate things from the mainstream media and other sources that demonstrably follow journalistic standards.
They may also want to think about somehow indicating to causal users when they are viewing something that may be a conspiracy theory or have doubtful veracity and perhaps offering a link people can follow if they also want a more mainstream respectable take on the situation.
>the mainstream media, which in theory has trained journalists who follow journalistic standards in their reporting.
this is satire or sarcasm, surely.
Try it. Be a journalist, in any field whatsoever. You will soon find out that either you have very short memory or that John is right. One source bombards you with different stories every day to confuse and see what sticks (everyone thinks “they who are to blame” are someone else, for example), the other one is consistent.
“[O]bjective well-sourced journalism from established outlets that can be trusted to reliably report information.”
I just don’t know where to start or where to end. The sinking of the USS Maine? The Gulf of Tonkin Incident? Saddam’s WMDs? Gaddafi’s secret civilian-slaughter and Viagra-assisted mass-rape plans? Russia’s “annexation” of Crimea? The Russian DNC-server hack? Julian Assange as a smelly, feces-smearing rapist/spy? The British Labour Party as a nest of antisemites? Assad nerve-gassing his own people? Bolivian election fraud? Citizens of the PRC, North Korea, and Cuba are less naÃ¯ve about the objectivity of *their* media.
What *you’re* looking for in journalism is a *unicorn*. It doesn’t exist. Even when the journalists and editors involved have a modicum of good faith, *every* outlet has its own conflicts of interest, biases, blind spots, and agendas. And good faith is not always a given: read up on the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird and Udo Ulfkotte’s more recent “Journalists for Hire.” It’s Jason who’s on the right track, by cross-checking mainstream Western reporting against media with different agendas. Do enough of that, from a wide-enough range of sources — domestic and foreign, mainstream and dissident, right-wing and left-wing, professional and amateur — and you *might* have a shot at piecing together a roughly accurate picture of the truth. But if you confine yourself to “respectable” mainstream Western news, you are allowing yourself to be propagandized and your consent manufactured for disastrous actions that you *may* end up regretting … like the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, the destruction of Libya, the destruction of Syria, Cold War 2.0, the destruction of whistleblowing and dissident journalism, and more. [One of the things I regret most, personally, is how many Americans allow their opinion of “Medicare for All” to be shaped by news outlets that get a *HUGE* chunk of their advertising or underwriting revenues from the for-profit health sector. SPOILER ALERT: These outlets take a dim view of it.]
The specific issue in this article is how Alphabet/Google, by far the biggest player in the search and video market, puts its thumb on the scale in serving up news and opinion to its users. Here’s an interesting article in that regard:
How YouTube Radicalized Brazil – The New York Times
By Max Fisher and Amanda Taub, 11 August 2019
I don’t know that downranking or blacklisting “mainstream” channels is enough to offset whatever Google is doing behind the scenes — will it resuscitate demonetized channels or make proactively downranked “non-mainstream” channels re-emerge? — so my advice is to go into Google Search, YouTube Search, and YouTube recommendations with your eyes wide open … figuratively speaking.
The little knowledge the “enlightened” communities (ie. anti-vaccine, flat earthers, astrology, etc.) might have been exposed to will be extinguished with this addon. Seriously? BBC, AP, C-SPAN, 60 minutes, etc. I want the inverse of this addon. Anyone?
The mainstream capitalist media disinformation is less outrageously wrong than the flat earthers’ one, but it causes infinitely more damage because everybody is exposed to it and almost nobody questions it. Their admitting that Earth is round is not going to excuse their guilty silence on the real motivations behind every attack against the workers or every imperialist war or regime change. These media must be really desperate to justify themselves when the undeserved trust in them begins to crumble if they resort to comparing themselves to Youtube flat earthers to assert their value. Instead, let’s hold them accountable by comparing them to real world examples of what they would be like if they were not rotten corrupt to the core.
What “imperialist” attacks? If there was no religion or nationalism there would be no regimes or the need for regime changes. Nobody attacks Scandinavia or Canada (except Russian media, obviously).
Please stop with the “political correctness” crap.
You say “usually larger well established ones”.
You mean “the ones that make google the most money”.
I’d write an update to your article on how to subscribe to YT via RSS (which is still working today, just in a different way), send me a mail if you’re interested.
I can’t get its right-click function (block custom channel) work.
For me, it’s Bitchute
If only Donald Trump and his herd of sheeple would use this for all their viewing. They incessantly whine and complain about “mainstream media”, while falling for the biggest mainstream media sham of them all: Fox / Fox News.
What a bunch of suckers.
thats because since Trump is in office fox news does a better job than the rest of msm, im not sayin they are perfect just that they are better than they were(even hosted a bernie special)
you can verify this with news rating apps like newsvoice and others. Fox news constantly rates better than msnbc, cnn, abc etc in terms of credibility
since Trump is in msm has been terrible, really really terrible they cant take the L and still to this day look like complete fools even saying some dems are russian assets… zero proof 90% propaganda
If anyone is so ignorant to not realize that Fox is incredibly biased then they are blind to reality.
And now, with COVID-19 killing many, it’s very dangerous to have an organization like Fox repeating the lies told by Donald Trump and his ilk. He doesn’t believe in global climate change. He doesn’t think COVID-19 is a big deal. He’s nothing more than an ignorant stooge, and Fox is nothing more than his propaganda distributor.
This reality is obvious to the overwhelming majority of the world, but some sheeple prefer to live life with blinders over their eyes.
Google should at the very least make the recommendation algorithms public, this is too much power for them to abuse at their discretion.
We already know that the far right is working hard to paint itself as poor oppressed dissenters who are censored by communist mainstream corporate giants, but the problem is that this false narrative also profits companies like Google that push it even more than the far right does, equating all dissent with racism and fake news to justify censoring anything non mainstream, and with that the actual left-wing dissent against the capitalist rule. Grouping together the far right and left-wing anti-capitalists under the common term of “extremists” or “radicalizers”, is one of the right-wing tricks to justify this censorship of the left.
This phenomenon can be seen more generally in western politics, when capitalism only offers an electoral choice between mainstream conservatives and the far right, allowing the formers to pose as the virtuous alternative while slowly integrating more of the ideology of the latters, which aren’t that different actually.
As an example, Google has recently used its Mozilla “we’re the good guys” proxy to announce its wish to cleanse Youtube recommendations of anti-americanism (Step 08 of https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/campaigns/youtube-regrets/), camouflaged inside a barrage of the usual virtue signaling. Mozilla’s contribution to “Making America Great Again” I guess.
You are making very good points. We (all of us) need to understand that we are actually dealing with a tech cartel here, it’s basically a hydra, and one of its heads is the browser cartel. This is concerning, as the browsers are our gates to the web. Now, I’ve pointed out since a long time that Google funds Mozilla. Their relationship is similar to that of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and “The Order” in the game “Deus Ex: Invisible War”. The World Trade Organization are the capitalists overlords ruling the world, but they realize that their control isn’t secure until they give the people some kind of opposition to flock to. So they created “The Order”, a group of spiritual and nature-loving individuals allegedly rebelling against the WTO. At the end of the game, the player learns that the “WTO” and “The Order” were actually run by the same people, and that “The Order” was a sham all along.
This is exactly what is happening here; we have the tech giant cartel ruling the tech world and in general much of our lives (as most information is published and read online these days), but they know they have to create some kind of controlled opposition, so that their control isn’t so obvious / seems less threatening than it actually is. That’s the role Mozilla was assigned to. Many people flock to them, thinking that they are the actual “spiritual, nature-loving rebels”. But they are not, they do the bidding of their corporate masters, who in turn cooperate with the state, especially the state’s secret services (this became obvious, and widely reported, during the NSA affair, but people seem to have forgotten already).
Google funds Mozilla, once you know that you only have to connect the dots (but apparently most people lack the brain that is required to do so). What we need are independent, as in financially independent, alternatives. The problem I see is: Most people are greedy and corrupt, so they will sell out their projects to the tech cartel. So what can we do? I think relying on one person or even a small group of persons is foolish, they will sell out eventually, especially when they are short of money for a time. We could start a crowdfunding effort, but a group of devs will require continuous funding, and I doubt that many people will stay on board for that long. Which leads us back to the (big) investors. It’s a vicious cycle.
What we would need:
1) People should learn about the tech cartel, and start to care about their privacy and how it otherwise affects their lives (manipulated algorithms swaying opinions).
2) People must learn to sustain a collective effort to establish an independent alternative.
I am usually not a pessimist, but I doubt that 1) can be accomplished, and I sincerely doubt we’ll ever reach 2) at all. Sad but true. If we don’t stand together as a collective, nothing will change. That’s my firm opinion.
Are you a communist? Google/YouTube is a private company. They can’t be forced to make their algorithms public and basically give them to competitors. Would you accept that for your business? To be forced to give to others what makes your business to stand out?
I doubt Iron Heart is a Communists. Sounds more like a Nationalists to me. Hmm, perhaps he is both in some regards?
Regardless, I tend to think he’s just another extremists who likes attacking the “powers to be” with various conspiracy theories.
To sum it up, if I ever got arrested and went to court, I wouldn’t want Iron Heart on that jury.
> I doubt Iron Heart is a Communists. Sounds more like a Nationalists to me.
I wonder from what statement of mine you derive this conclusion? Anyway, there is more under the sun than just Hitler’s & Stalin’s disciples, in case you forgot in this divisive political climate. I think of myself as a a classical liberal who believes that the big corporations have too much power, which strangles development of any real alternatives (and thus fair competition). Normally the state would have to regulate in case of monopolies or cartels, but the state won’t, they need these companies snooping your data out, so they let them operate as a cartel. In this situation, an alternative has to come from the people collectively or it will never come to be.
>Hmm, perhaps he is both in some regards?
OK, this is utterly stupid now. And you know that.
> Regardless, I tend to think heâ€™s just another extremists who likes attacking the â€œpowers to beâ€ with various conspiracy theories.
The tech cartel working together is not a “conspiracy theory”, buddy. You can easily find out about it. Why do you think Google funds Mozilla, for example? Why do you think E. Snowden, who formerly worked at the NSA, said that all of the giant tech corporations cooperate with the state when it comes to spying on users? If you think they aren’t working together and with the state, then this doesn’t make me a conspiracy theorist, it just means that you are totally blind / ignorant.
> To sum it up, if I ever got arrested and went to court, I wouldnâ€™t want Iron Heart on that jury.
You don’t even know me, what a joke. If I ever got arrested, I wouldn’t want people on the jury who feel they are able to judge me without even knowing my case. I suspect that you would be such a person.
Oops, in my other comment to you, I thought you were talking to Iron Heart, but no matter.
So, sure, I’d say Anonymous is at least a fan of the far left. No mystery there from what I see.
I’m not a fan of the far left or the far right.
I’m a fan of what works, as we the people decide, regardless to how dumb and/or blind some folks are. I know that’s less than ideal, but the other alternatives are often much worse.
I’d very much welcome a plugin that lets me exclude the big content agregators (youtube first and foremost) from search engine results. Pls suggest, I’m sure there must be solutions out there.
In Google search you can exclude YouTube results with this modifier:
Just bookmark this:
And as need be, in the search results change “news” with whatever you want.
nothing wrong with mainstream media on youtube. better than the selfproclaimed ‘facts&news spreader’ or all the utube conspiration idiots.
I need something to fix the Google search ranking and return results that are useful and stop that damn AI from assuming that it Knows better than me what I’m searching for.
If I Google USPS crappy service for failure to deliver my Driver license renewal to my P.O. box I do not want all the hits pointing to the USPS website. I want forum hits of others that have had the same crappy USPS experience. Damn the USPS actually sent my driver license renewal back to the RMV instead on putting it in my P.O. box. So just try and Google the USPS returned my driver’s renewal instead of delivering it to my P.O. box. And the RMV actually mailed my renewal to the proper P.O. box address but the USPS sent it back anyways. Google’s search AI is damn censorship as it’s always pointing away from the “bad” and towards what it thinks is good, but is actually useless search hits.
But damn the USPS is really bad with folks mail/packages and I eventually found a forum where some poor customer had their license renewal bounced back and forth between their correct address and their RMV/DMV 4 times. But Google’s AI is trying to gloss over reality using its AI as some good thoughts only big AI brother where real thought is a crime.
Google’s search AI is doing evil more than good and try and Google on subjects that are not so appealing to Google’s big corporate ad clients and their market abuses and most of the Google search hits pointing to every thing but what one is actually looking for.
YouTube is a burning sewerage plant fire and if one finds any series of Videos that they wish to watch good luck getting YouTube to list that in chronological order the full series. That damn Google AI is really nefarious and insidious.