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May 1, 2018

YouTube and you

“The whole world has become a lot less stable and more polarized. Because of that, our responsibility is that much greater.”
(Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer)


At the risk of sounding like an anti-tech curmudgeon, I am growing more and more concerned about the www (Wild, Wild, West) of the Internet. Facebook is putting out TV commercials to begin restoring its image, and Instagram is becoming known as the most depression-inducing medium for teenagers.


Meanwhile, YouTube has suddenly become wildly profitable, using its algorithms to link together scores of videos similar to any you’re currently watching, and Netflix-style, playing them before you have a chance to decide whether you actually want to watch another one. This is a miracle for marketers, able to tack on ads to the content they know you like.


Good for them. Bad for us, though. Because of the immediacy of the medium, and because we are shown more and more videos like the ones we’re already watching, the Internet encourages two things: Addiction, and confirmation bias (we only see what we already believe).


It’s good, therefore, that YouTube is now recognizing their responsibility in a less stable, more polarized world. It would be better for them, and many others, to recognize their role in helping make it that way.


More on this tomorrow.


Peace begins with pause,


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