Mozilla says YouTube’s dislike button barely works

YouTube’s dislike button does nothing for the algorithm, a new Mozilla study has found. We continue to see content we don’t want no matter how much we mash it up. The same goes for the “Not interested” and “Do not recommend this channel” options.

report title Does this button work? Investigate YouTube’s ineffective user controls, This comes after a month-long study of YouTube behavior by the Mozilla Foundation. They enlisted the help of 20,000 volunteer web users through an extension on Mozilla’s Firefox browser remorse reporter,

Person holding tablet computer showing video

“We’ve learned that people don’t think YouTube’s user controls are effective tools for managing the content they watch.” Mozilla senior researcher Rebecca Ricks said. “Our research validates these experiences – the data shows that people don’t really have much control over the YouTube algorithm.” The YouTube algorithm continues to recommend videos that people clearly don’t want to watch, even if they have stated their preferences to the platform.

Mozilla used a variety of tools in its research. It started with a survey of 2,758 RegretsReporter users, and 68% of them felt that the YouTube algorithm completely ignored their interests. Mozilla then used a qualitative method that verified the results of the survey. It did this by overlaying the Stop Recommending button on the recommended video which would trigger the YouTube algorithm. The extension then tracked down the videos that were rejected, and those that were recommended again. 67% of rejected videos reappeared on participants’ recommended feeds.

The algorithm was also unable to determine the types of videos to stop recommending. For example, people who disliked war videos or told YouTube to stop recommending war videos were fed horrific footage of the war in Ukraine.

The most effective tool was the “Do not recommend channel” option, which worked 43% of the time, while the least effective tool was the “Not interested” option, which worked only 11% of the time. Mozilla says YouTube has the ability to fix this and advises YouTube to make its tools more proactive and allow us to shape our own experiences on the platform.

Until then, we can expect to get those awesome recommendations, no matter how many times we break that dislike button.

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