According to a study, no matter how hard you try, you can’t actually influence YouTube suggestions.

Millions of hours of video may be found on YouTube, and the platform’s recommendations system helps to highlight content on the main page and other recommended content places. However, a recent study found that the techniques used to manage YouTube suggestions don’t actually have much of an impact on what appears.

While the video you’re now watching is typically the main emphasis of any given YouTube page, suggestions can be found all across the web or even through apps. When a video is playing, recommended videos are displayed next to it or below it. If you choose autoplay, another video will start playing once the current one ends, and more recommendations will appear in the few seconds before it does.

However, it is not uncommon for these suggestions to get a little excessive and push topics that you aren’t really interested in.

According to YouTube, you can use the dislike button, select “I’m not interested in recommendations,” delete items from your viewing history, or choose to stop promoting a certain channel to help customize your recommendations.

These buttons are usually ineffectual at actually altering what appears in your recommendations, according to research done by the Mozilla Foundation using an open-source application called RegretsReporter. This result was discovered through analysis of about 500 million participant-watched videos. The open-source application added a general stop recommending button to the page, which would randomly select one of the four possibilities for various participant groups, including a control group that didn’t provide any feedback to YouTube.

These buttons weren’t deemed to be helpful at removing problematic suggestions, the recommendations that directly featured content that viewers had expressed displeasure with, despite using the many choices that YouTube provided. The features for instructing YouTube to stop recommending video from a particular channel and for deleting stuff from a user’s viewing history were the most useful. The recommendation-influencing power of the not interested button was the lowest.

A spokeswoman for YouTube rejected the report in a statement that The Verge was given access to.

It’s important to note that our controls don’t eliminate entire topics or points of view because doing so can alienate viewers by fostering echo chambers. Our YouTube Researcher Program has increased Data API access since we encourage academic study on our platform. Since Mozilla’s research doesn’t consider how our systems actually operate, it is impossible for us to draw many conclusions from it.

In the end, though, it becomes quite evident that users are extremely frustrated with such recommendation algorithms. Controls like these have been largely viewed as ineffective by users who frequently find themselves seeing the same topic repeatedly, even if they are not actually interested, as a result of the rise of short-form video apps that thrive on recommending similar content, such as TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube’s own Shorts. These platforms’ primary goal is to increase user engagement, which they successfully accomplish.

According to Mozilla’s study, YouTube should make its settings simple to use and comprehend and give users the power to create suggestions.
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