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How YouTube Radicalized Brazil

Barnabot

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NITERÓI, Brazil — When Matheus Dominguez was 16, YouTube recommended a video that changed his life.
He was in a band in Niterói, a beach-ringed city in Brazil, and practiced guitar by watching tutorials online.
YouTube had recently installed a powerful new artificial intelligence system that learned from user behavior and paired videos with recommendations for others. One day, it directed him to an amateur guitar teacher named Nando Moura, who had gained a wide following by posting videos about heavy metal, video games and, most of all, politics.
In colorful and paranoid far-right rants, Mr. Moura accused feminists, teachers and mainstream politicians of waging vast conspiracies. Mr. Dominguez was hooked.
As his time on the site grew, YouTube recommended videos from other far-right figures. One was a lawmaker named Jair Bolsonaro, then a marginal figure in national politics — but a star in YouTube’s far-right community in Brazil, where the platform has become more widely watched than all but one TV channel.
Last year, he became President Bolsonaro.

“YouTube became the social media platform of the Brazilian right,” said Mr. Dominguez, now a lanky 17-year-old who says he, too, plans to seek political office.



Members of the nation’s newly empowered far right — from grass-roots organizers to federal lawmakers — say their movement would not have risen so far, so fast, without YouTube’s recommendation engine.

New research has found they may be correct. YouTube’s search and recommendation system appears to have systematically diverted users to far-right and conspiracy channels in Brazil.

A New York Times investigation in Brazil found that, time and again, videos promoted by the site have upended central elements of daily life.
Teachers describe classrooms made unruly by students who quote from YouTube conspiracy videos or who, encouraged by right-wing YouTube stars, secretly record their instructors.

...

And in politics, a wave of right-wing YouTube stars ran for office alongside Mr. Bolsonaro, some winning by historic margins. Most still use the platform, governing the world’s fourth-largest democracy through internet-honed trolling and provocation.

YouTube’s recommendation system is engineered to maximize watchtime, among other factors, the company says, but not to favor any political ideology. The system suggests what to watch next, often playing the videos automatically, in a never-ending quest to keep us glued to our screens.

But the emotions that draw people in — like fear, doubt and anger — are often central features of conspiracy theories, and in particular, experts say, of right-wing extremism.

As the system suggests more provocative videos to keep users watching, it can direct them toward extreme content they might otherwise never find. And it is designed to lead users to new topics to pique new interest — a boon for channels like Mr. Moura’s that use pop culture as a gateway to far-right ideas.

The system now drives 70 percent of total time on the platform, the company says. As viewership skyrockets globally, YouTube is bringing in over $1 billion a month, some analysts believe.
Zeynep Tufekci, a social media scholar, has called it “one of the most powerful radicalizing instruments of the 21st century.”

Company representatives disputed the studies’ methodology and said that the platform’s systems do not privilege any one viewpoint or direct users toward extremism. However, company representatives conceded some of the findings and promised to make changes.

Farshad Shadloo, a spokesman, said that YouTube has “invested heavily in the policies, resources and products” to reduce the spread of harmful misinformation, adding, “we’ve seen that authoritative content is thriving in Brazil and is some of the most recommended content on the site.”

Danah Boyd, founder of the think tank Data & Society, attributed the disruption in Brazil to YouTube’s unrelenting push for viewer engagement, and the revenues it generates.

Though corruption scandals and a deep recession had already devastated Brazil’s political establishment and left many Brazilians ready for a break with the status quo, Ms. Boyd called YouTube’s impact a worrying indication of the platform’s growing impact on democracies worldwide.

“This is happening everywhere,” she said.
The Party of YouTube
Maurício Martins, the local vice president of Mr. Bolsonaro’s party in Niterói, credited “most” of the party’s recruitment to YouTube — including his own.

He was killing time on the site one day, he recalled, when the platform showed him a video by a right-wing blogger. He watched out of curiosity. It showed him another, and then another.
“Before that, I didn’t have an ideological political background,” Mr. Martins said. YouTube’s auto-playing recommendations, he declared, were “my political education.”
“It was like that with everyone,” he said.
The platform’s political influence is increasingly felt in Brazilian schools.
“Sometimes I’m watching videos about a game, and all of a sudden it’s a Bolsonaro video,” said Inzaghi D., a 17-year-old high schooler in Niterói.
More and more, his fellow students are making extremist claims, often citing as evidence YouTube stars like Mr. Moura, the guitarist-turned-conspiracist.
“It’s the main source that kids have to get information,” he said.
Few illustrate YouTube’s influence better than Carlos Jordy.
Musclebound and heavily tattooed — his left hand bears a flaming skull with diamond eyes — he joined the City Council in 2017 with few prospects of rising through traditional politics. So Mr. Jordy took inspiration from bloggers like Mr. Moura and his political mentor, Mr. Bolsonaro, turning his focus to YouTube.



Youtube seem to be taking its ball home after profiting so much with the people who gave it lot of money with ads (but not belonging to the 'right' team I guess) . But the question is: what Youtube wants to be now? A new platform for non political stuff only? Worldwide? A "not-far-right" erm I mean a "not-brazilian-far-right" platform? Or doesn't Youtube want to be a double edged sword anymore and now it wants to be a scimitar instead and be able to swing at just one side?

Also far-right? More like a poor man's far right imo just because Bolsonaro alone is not leaning the same way the Partido dos Trabalhadores wanted for Brazil to last for decades. But whatever.

The allegedly far-right(poor man's far right) youtubers are being silently shut down as YT is removing their monetization because the content is considered as offensive (i.e. Pension Reform, Glenn Greenwald spreading fake news about Lava Jato).

One thing I must say GAF is that I need to take my hat off to most of the militants I helped to remove from power since last elections they weren't fucking around when they started spreading fake news to make Bolsonaro look 'as bad as Hitler' not to the brazilian people itself who are already sick and tired of seeing their same tricks over and over but now to the worldwide instead while they were fleeing to their safe spaces like Europe and not the other 3rd World countries which Lula and Dilma were too busy being best friends of dictators such as Venezuela, Cuba, Angola, Zimbabue, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and financing them to screw their own populations.

So what's your end game YT? Asking your thoughts, GAF, because that's the same Youtube platform which people are whining that it is providing to people more info than what nowaday schools are wiling to provide. Even providing more news about the government deeds than the local news which are currently more focused in tainting your not so left wing president's (i.e. Bolsonaro) image than reporting anything related to what the government is actually doing. Do you think it can be applied to you country too? Is YT shuting down speech of any sort?
 
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DunDunDunpachi

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"The problem is they became far right. Nothing an algorithm and some censorship won't fix". :messenger_grimmacing_ :messenger_ok:

They don't actually care that people are being radicalized, as one might argue the smears and the lies about the situation in Brazil are equally "radical", just on the other side of the spectrum.

They care that people are being radicalized in the wrong direction. The outcome will be the same: adjustments to algorithms, banning of "dangerous opinions", and so forth. Google's aim is to shape world events. The concept of non-government corporations and guilds and religions influencing society is pretty darn old. Google is just a modern iteration of the same thing.
 

~Fake

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Have to agree with New York this time. Even disable all those bunch of options in google account I still get those guns, bolsonaro videos and I don't know why. Even being a left guy I want politcs to stay out of gaming or music with I used to acess youtube, but still they keep recommend that bs.
 
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Barnabot

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"The problem is they became far right. Nothing an algorithm and some censorship won't fix". :messenger_grimmacing_ :messenger_ok:

They don't actually care that people are being radicalized, as one might argue the smears and the lies about the situation in Brazil are equally "radical", just on the other side of the spectrum.

They care that people are being radicalized in the wrong direction. The outcome will be the same: adjustments to algorithms, banning of "dangerous opinions", and so forth. Google's aim is to shape world events. The concept of non-government corporations and guilds and religions influencing society is pretty darn old. Google is just a modern iteration of the same thing.
That's what I was thinking too when I said "doesn't Youtube want to be a double edged sword anymore and now it wants to be a scimitar instead and be able to swing at just one side? "

There's a push for something. Maybe just for the political view they'd allow us to share?
 

Sub_Level

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Have to agree with New York this time. Even disable all those bunch of options in google account I still get those guns, bolsonaro videos and I don't know why. Even being a left guy I want politcs to stay out of gaming or music with I used to acess youtube, but still they keep recommend that bs.
There is an option next to videos where you can put "not interested". I occasionally listen to Ben Shapiro and Joe Rogan during my lunch so I would keep getting SJW DESTROYED IN ARGUMENT and DIVERSITY FAILS videos. Took a while but I finally cut them out of my suggested feed. Its like breh I'm here to watch videogame shit get this the fuck out of my face.
 

~Fake

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There is an option next to videos where you can put "not interested". I occasionally listen to Ben Shapiro and Joe Rogan during my lunch so I would keep getting SJW DESTROYED IN ARGUMENT and DIVERSITY FAILS videos. Took a while but I finally cut them out of my suggested feed. Its like breh I'm here to watch videogame shit get this the fuck out of my face.
Already tried. Don't work I'm afraid.
 
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Otherspacing

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To me it's more like some Brazilians discovered they were far-right conservatives or libertarians via YouTube all along, even if that was done by Youtubers that in my view are not that amazing. If they remove the videos, people will still be able to engage these views somewhere else, be it on Twitter or anywhere else.

I confess I'm a bit tired of the media/establishment cycles for politics here in Brqzil. Since day 1 negative narratives are created week after week, it's extremely dishonest and annoying. I'm almost at a point here that I don't even care what Bolsonaro says anymore, I only check what are the policies that are being sent to congress, and I evaluate if I like them or not myself.

By the way, what can YouTube do about the videos that are merely press conferences or short speeches from Bolsonaro? They surely can demonetize that, but I doubt people will stop uploading or sharing them.
 

Generic

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To me it's more like some Brazilians discovered they were far-right conservatives or libertarians via YouTube all along, even if that was done by Youtubers that in my view are not that amazing. If they remove the videos, people will still be able to engage these views somewhere else, be it on Twitter or anywhere else.

I confess I'm a bit tired of the media/establishment cycles for politics here in Brqzil. Since day 1 negative narratives are created week after week, it's extremely dishonest and annoying. I'm almost at a point here that I don't even care what Bolsonaro says anymore, I only check what are the policies that are being sent to congress, and I evaluate if I like them or not myself.

By the way, what can YouTube do about the videos that are merely press conferences or short speeches from Bolsonaro? They surely can demonetize that, but I doubt people will stop uploading or sharing them.
Most of these "fake narratives" aren't fake. Bolsonaro is just a bad president and person overall.
 

Otherspacing

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Most of these "fake narratives" aren't fake. Bolsonaro is just a bad president and person overall.
Oh, please enlighten me, oh enlightened one.

EDIT: And I didn't say fake narratives, I said negative, some times in ways that only a good and sweet fear-mongering journalist can provide.
 
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voidenberg

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Bolsonaro is an asshole and i wish to god he could keep his mouth shut. But he just can't help it.
But things are slowly improving despite what MSM says. Violence numbers are dropping. Economy is getting better.

Edit:

The right ideology is popular amongst youngsters because it's anti-establishment, counterculture.
But your average Joe Zé who is responsible for electing Bolsonaro still wants big state and free stuff. Average Zé is still a leftist at heart.
 
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dionysus

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How dare people be exposed to wrongthink. We need to indoctrinate doublethink into them so that truth is whatever we tell them it is. I suggest a mandatory watching of the 5 minutes of hate.
 
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TheGreatYosh

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Hearing another point of view radicalized me! Only state/corporate endorsed views should be allowed online.
 
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Otherspacing

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Edit:

The right ideology is popular amongst youngsters because it's anti-establishment, counterculture.
But your average Joe Zé who is responsible for electing Bolsonaro still wants big state and free stuff. Average Zé is still a leftist at heart.
How young are we talking here?

Anecdotally, most of my close friends seem to be interventionists at heart and mostly left-leaning, but I'm not so young anymore. I've seen more Average Zés spouting right-wing talking points, in the supermarket no less, than young people at this point.
 

voidenberg

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How young are we talking here?

Anecdotally, most of my close friends seem to be interventionists at heart and mostly left-leaning, but I'm not so young anymore. I've seen more Average Zés spouting right-wing talking points, in the supermarket no less, than young people at this point.
Well, younger than me. I'm not young.

I feel this left/right dichotomy doesn't apply to average brazilians.
 

Dice

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I'll be honest, I am completely unfamiliar with Brazil's right wing presence on YouTube. However, I do know they have been in a long term battle between far right and far left and for a while they just kept moving more and more left due to outrageously Marxist schools. With the blatant Marxist propaganda machine running through their culture, it really wouldn't take much to tip the pendulum swinging in the opposite direction. Overall their problem is not being too left or too right, but simply too politicized overall. To some extent, for sake of stability, a large population has to be very in touch with human commonality in the basics of life without always interpreting it by paranoia over shadow agendas.
 
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TTOOLL

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Let me tell you, as a Brazilian, that YouTube didn't radicalize us. What actually happened is that the internet has liberated us from the left-wing media monopoly. Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube gave voice to conservatives, and of course, they are now trying to undo this by banning and shadowbanning prominent conservatives.

There is NO RADICALIZATION.

Disagreeing with the left is considered hate speech and radicalism, that's about it.



Bolsonaro is an asshole and i wish to god he could keep his mouth shut. But he just can't help it.
But things are slowly improving despite what MSM says. Violence numbers are dropping. Economy is getting better.

Edit:

The right ideology is popular amongst youngsters because it's anti-establishment, counterculture.
But your average Joe Zé who is responsible for electing Bolsonaro still wants big state and free stuff. Average Zé is still a leftist at heart.

I disagree with your last sentence. It used to be like this, but people can't see clearly now that the state just can't provide everything. People are endorsing Bolsonaro's economic liberalism and reforms. It's actually incredible that this is happening in my lifetime.
 
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Barnabot

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I'll be honest, I am completely unfamiliar with Brazil's right wing presence on YouTube. However, I do know they have been in a long term battle between far right and far left and for a while they just kept moving more and more left due to outrageously Marxist schools. With the blatant Marxist propaganda machine running through their culture, it really wouldn't take much to tip the pendulum swinging in the opposite direction. Overall their problem is not being too left or too right, but simply too politicized overall. To some extent, for sake of stability, a large population has to be very in touch with human commonality in the basics of life without always interpreting it by paranoia over shadow agendas.
You're right about the Marxist schools. They 're about picturing socialism as the only good thing the world needed.
About the paranoia we do have to some degree. That's because some crooked politicians from time to time are still trying to get some shady bills approved overnight. Even worse, during midnight so no one could could have a chance to oppose them. Consider this bill which got secretly approved during this week. This is to flex what's the meaning of abuse of authority to a extent that if a alleged criminal ever felt wronged while being arrested by an authority he could prosecute back the same authority thus even warranting the authority to get 6 months ~ 2 year of jail time. Yeah. And oh, forgot to mention that the authority should never shackle the alleged criminal if it doesn't feel like it would try to resist. You got this right: they're assuming that most if not all criminals won't be ever resisting jail because reasons /s.
 
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Dice

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Yeah, and that is a tricky thing, fighting legitimate corruption while not letting it drive you nuts so that you are interpreting all of your day to day life and everyone you encounter in overly politicized narratives. We struggle with it here in the US as well.
 

Bolivar687

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I think NYT is hammering YouTube with all these articles just because they need to cow all of the social media outlets ahead of the 2020 election and for literally no other reason at all.
 

Barnabot

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One thing about those "far-right" youtubers which NYTimes have mentioned within the article . They're also the ones who were gathering everyone to participate to rallies either in favor of Bolsonaro when it comes to support Pension Reform or in protest against the Supreme Court deeds doing everything they can to prevent Brazil to advance as a country and get Lula free from imprisonment because 'feelings' and also because within them there are people like Dias Toffoli(Lula's closer friend), Gilmar Mendes(this one likes to issue release order to convicted scumbags), Ricardo Lewandowski(this one likes to give arrest warrant to anyone who dares to criticize him and his job).

If it wasn't because of social media crooked politicians and people from Supreme Court could have a good time in Brazil. But lately brazilians are not giving them a rest.
 
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autoduelist

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If you call every opinion outside of lockstep with liberal policy on healthcare, economy, regulations, immigration, etc. 'radical', then of course everyone is 'radicalized'. Ben Shapiro is a mild conservative with some libertarian leanings, and Tim Pool is pretty left despite claiming to be a centrist. Joe Rogan is from the left side of the aisle too. Yet all somehow 'radicalize' people. Nah, it's just the left is actively trying to shift the Overton window and force all options to be from 'pretty far left' to 'extremely far left'.
 

Liberty4all

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If you call every opinion outside of lockstep with liberal policy on healthcare, economy, regulations, immigration, etc. 'radical', then of course everyone is 'radicalized'. Ben Shapiro is a mild conservative with some libertarian leanings, and Tim Pool is pretty left despite claiming to be a centrist. Joe Rogan is from the left side of the aisle too. Yet all somehow 'radicalize' people. Nah, it's just the left is actively trying to shift the Overton window and force all options to be from 'pretty far left' to 'extremely far left'.
Totally agree with you. This move by the left is just another attempt to redefine the meaning of words. "Watching conservative videos" becomes "radicalization".

As always with the left, "anything I don't agree with ideologically is fascism".
 

DeepEnigma

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Totally agree with you. This move by the left is just another attempt to redefine the meaning of words. "Watching conservative videos" becomes "radicalization".

As always with the left, "anything I don't agree with ideologically is fascism".
Amazing how similar the tactics being displayed, are that of actual fascist regimes.

It’s all projected propaganda.
 

iamblades

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If you call every opinion outside of lockstep with liberal policy on healthcare, economy, regulations, immigration, etc. 'radical', then of course everyone is 'radicalized'. Ben Shapiro is a mild conservative with some libertarian leanings, and Tim Pool is pretty left despite claiming to be a centrist. Joe Rogan is from the left side of the aisle too. Yet all somehow 'radicalize' people. Nah, it's just the left is actively trying to shift the Overton window and force all options to be from 'pretty far left' to 'extremely far left'.
Agree with this mostly, though Bolsanaro is pretty much an asshole. That doesn't mean that the people who elected him were radicalized though, given that his opposition was literally in prison for corruption. Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you have to choose something you normally wouldn't because of the alternative.

The interesting commonality between the Brazil and the USA case is how the left refuses to internalize the role that they had in the situation. Whether it's Youtube radicalization or muh Russians, there is a refusal to accept that they had any role in the decision of the voters.
 
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autoduelist

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Agree with this mostly, though Bolsanaro is pretty much an asshole. That doesn't mean that the people who elected him were radicalized though, given that his opposition was literally in prison for corruption. Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you have to choose something you normally wouldn't because of the alternative.

The interesting commonality between the Brazil and the USA case is how the left refuses to internalize the role that they had in the situation. Whether it's Youtube radicalization or muh Russians, there is a refusal to accept that they had any role in the decision of the voters.
I only know very top level info about Brazil. I do believe the more you let things fester, the 'worse' the solution will be. An infected toe, left to rot, can result in a leg being amputated. Cartels have been left to fester for decades.
 
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