In a new leak to Breitbart, YouTube employees admit that they manipulate search results on the platform to promote certain liberal values. They also “blacklist” videos whose arguments they disagree with.
While YouTube’s sister company, Google, has denied any manual changing of search results to promote certain ideas over other ideas, it seems as if YouTube is doing just that. Breitbart published a leaked conversation between YouTube employees and a partial list of “blacklisted terms.” In another leaked email, a member of Google’s Trust and Safety team admitted that it wasn’t just YouTube, but also Google Assistant, Google Home, and Google’s search results.
When a Slate reporter complained that there were pro-life videos in the YouTube search results, YouTube hastily demoted all of them so that they would not end up in the top ten results. Three videos featuring a woman who regretted her abortion, a former abortion doctor’s story and conservative Ben Shapiro were replaced by something from a CNN video, and a Vice video.
The member of the Trust and Safety team, Daniel Aaronson, also wrote an explanation of how the “blacklisting” and the manipulation worked. “From a user perspective,” said Aaronson, “there are subjects that are prone to hyperbolic content, misleading information, and offensive content.”
He explained that while many people preferred “organic search” where “content should be accessible no matter how offensive it might be,” Google and YouTube apparently had “different expectations.” There was then a passing comment referencing the “Pepsi formula” to help their employees figure out how to manipulate different results.
A majority of the blacklisted search terms include conspiracy theories surrounding the Parkland shootings and David Hogg. However, abortion, the Ireland abortion referendum, and pro-life material was also blacklisted to have manipulated search results. Since YouTube removed a pro-life video exposing Planned Parenthood in the past week, this should not come as a surprise.