A few days ago, YouTube was brim with online trolling on Brie Larson’s role in the latest Marvel movie, Captain Marvel. There were calls to boycott the film and angry rants about how it played out. Today, however, YouTube made all of those disappear.
YouTube recategorized ‘Brie Larson’ as a news-worthy term. YouTube’s algorithmic news tool is a way for the platform to prioritize certain topics to videos handled by authoritative sources. So when you type in a news-worthy topic to the platform’s search engine, all you see are videos from sources like Entertainment Tonight, ABC, CBS, CNN, and other news outlets.
This is a fascinating discovery: YouTube seems to have changed the immediate “Brie Larson” search results to News. That pushes up authoritative sources and, in turn, pushes troll or MRA-style video rants pretty far down the page. Here’s what it was versus now.
In addition to the Brie Larson-Captain Marvel fiasco, Rotten Tomatoes were also forced to execute a new system after their site was bombarded with negative reviews, even before the movie was officially out, that some say influences Rotten Tomatoes reviewers. This led to an okay to average review on the Captain Marvel movie on its initial posting.
The issue of trolling is real. Major platforms like Facebook and Twitter has dealt with these issues. But, there are many kinds of trolls. There are those who troll to cause mischief, there are ones who spread hate, some spam a forum or a social media account, there are even the funny ones who know everything, and there are paid trolls.
On the Brie Larson topic, is YouTube facing trolls? Or an entirely different thing?
The algorithmic news tool was first rolled out in October 2017, following mass criticism over how YouTube’s search favored conspiracy videos over actual news after a mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival.
The question, however, is when do we identify a particular topic as news-worthy? For conventional news, this makes sense: politics, news breaks, major events, natural disasters. A mass shooting is a news break, so it’s undoubtedly news. How about Brie Larson? The Captain Marvel movie? They’re entertainment.
Critics are concerned with the system YouTube used in handling the Brie Larson issue, arguing that this is a type of censorship.
How far would we consider a YouTube video is trolling? YouTube has yet to comment on that. However, individual YouTube content creators are concerned because some would argue that they’re not trolling but are giving their honest and personal opinions about the movie.
The underlying problem is the power of YouTube to manipulate its users’ perceptions easily.
Now, when you search Brie Larson on YouTube, we see a load of trailers and promotional interviews on the latest Captain Marvel movie. But, where are the reviews, you ask? You can see them way down below the search result.
Marking her name as a “News Topic” actually promotes the videos she’s recently involved with, or are popular. These videos are mainly from ‘authoritative’ sources since the topic searched is from the entertainment world.
The algorithm will force videos from normal, or none ‘authoritative’ sources, reviewing the movie to be pushed way below significant outlets, which is why some call it out as a manner of censorship.
Videos cannot be shut off from people’s feed just because they didn’t like the movie. They are opinions more than they are trolling.
The problem doesn’t end with Brie Larson, diving in a more in-depth perspective, this could potentially cause implications in the future, especially in the entertainment arena when leading corporations like Marvel can benefit from this algorithm.
If YouTube starts favoring significant companies over a diverse set of information sharing media in its platform, which was why people loved it in the first place, it begins to shape a conversation around specific topics.
When platforms like YouTube only feed its users with promotional contents, newly released trailers, and quirky celebrity interviews, then a consumer perception is manipulated with only positive things, making it very ripe for abuse, in this case, thinking that the movie will be great.
If YouTube continues to prioritize companies over its independent creators, it wouldn’t be the same. It would become a massive online news outlet that people wouldn’t come for people’s opinions.
What do you think about YouTube’s move on the entertainment industry? Do you agree with it? Sound off below!