YouTube Announces Algorithm Change, No Longer Recommending Conspiracy Theories

Published on February 10, 2019

It’s a sad day for flat earthers and fans of other conspiracy theories.

Youtube announced this week that it will be changing its algorithm. The video streaming and sharing platform will no longer be recommending conspiracy theory videos to its users. The platform announced that these types of videos are close to violating its community guidelines for being inaccurate, either historically or medically. Usually the platform will recommend related videos that the website’s algorithm thinks you’ll like based on your viewing history. Now, the algorithm will change for videos that contain inaccuracies or conspiracy.

New Algorithm

Examples of videos that come close to violating Youtube’s community guidelines and fall under the category of videos that will no longer be recommended are videos that aim to share blatantly incorrect information. Videos like miracle remedies for different ailments that have no scientific information to back up their claims are also among the laundry list. The examples that Youtube named in its blog post (which you can read here) are videos about conspiracy theories like the flat earth theory and other videos aiming to out information about 9/11.

“We’ll continue that work this year, including taking a closer look at how we can reduce the spread of content that comes close to—but doesn’t quite cross the line of—violating our Community Guidelines,” said Youtube in the blog post. “To that end, we’ll begin reducing recommendations of borderline content and content that could misinform users in harmful ways—such as videos promoting a phony miracle cure for a serious illness, claiming the earth is flat, or making blatantly false claims about historic events like 9/11,” the company continued.

Impact On Mental Health

Youtube clearly feels that these videos contain no substantial or helpful information for anyone. The company plans to combat this type of content by removing it from its recommendation algorithm. The algorithm will also be fine tuned to avoid recommending repeat content. This will be beneficial for videos that users will only need to watch one version of. The example used in the blog post talked about recipe videos. In which case users are unlikely to need multiple versions of the same information.

Youtube previously changed its algorithm to combat clickbait-type videos on its platform. Videos with vague titles that draw viewers in despite offering no substantial information were all but barred from the site. The site estimates that no more than 1% of its content will be impacted. The content will still be there, but the site won’t be recommending the content to users who watch similar videos. The algorithm changes will be implemented on a gradual basis. They won’t offer a noticeable impact, but will eventually help filter content.


Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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