They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease. That appears to be particularly true if the squeaky wheel is a leftist.
As noted by The Daily Wire, after a Slate reporter complained that search results on the video platform brought up a great deal of anti-abortion or pro-life videos, the algorithm suddenly changed.
The Slate reporter, April Glaser, shared her ‘win’ in an article she wrote for Slate, as well as on social media:
Search for “abortion” on YouTube last week and the top results were a horrifying mix of gore and dangerous misinformation. YouTube changed the results after I asked https://t.co/sNjQncSrNS
— april glaser (@aprilaser) December 21, 2018
In her article, Glaser explained how she got YouTube to change its algorithm. “I emailed YouTube Friday afternoon asking why anti-abortion videos saturated the search results for ‘abortion,’ and if the platform thought accurate, health-focused information had a place there.
“By Monday morning, before the company got back to me, the search results had changed to include a number of news outlets among the top results, including a video from Vice about how women trying to get abortions are being stymied by anti-abortion centers that masquerade as clinics.”
It seems that for liberals, videos explaining the horrifying process of abortion are not OK, but the horrifying act of abortion is.
In her article, this is how Glaser described what she originally found in her YouTube searches that was so offensive:
“Before I raised the issue with YouTube late last week, the top search results for ‘abortion’ on the site were almost all anti-abortion — and frequently misleading. One top result was a clip called ‘LIVE Abortion Video on Display,’ which over the course of a gory two minutes shows images of a formed fetus’ tiny feet resting in a pool of blood.
“Several of the top results featured a doctor named Antony Levatino, including one in which he testified to the House Judiciary Committee that Planned Parenthood was aborting fetuses ‘the length of your hand plus several inches’ in addition to several misleading animations that showed a fetus that looks like a sentient child in the uterus.”
But abortions do involve blood, fetuses do develop body parts such as feet, and “sentient” is defined as being able to perceive or feel things, which is accurate for a fetus in the womb.
On social media, users were quick to point out the flaws in Glaser’s argument. They also hit at her reasoning and YouTube’s response:
Something’s wrong if it’s “horrifying” and your reaction is to get it out of your (and everyone’s) sight to preserve your perspective.
— Ian Shetron (@IanKShetron) December 22, 2018
So, you asked for the truth to be buried? #AbortionStopsABeatingHeart
— Sandy (@RightGlockMom) December 22, 2018
Advocating for censorship online? Our hero!
— Justin (@justin_ksu) December 22, 2018
Hard to imagine a conservative activist could get this kind of action. https://t.co/13VjSBH8b0
— Drew McCoy (@_Drew_McCoy_) December 22, 2018
Perhaps most telling from Glaser’s article is what she wrote about why the initial search results were so disturbing.
“It’s not just the top results that are a problem. A lot of viewing on YouTube happens through the platform’s discovery features, which automatically play an algorithmically chosen new video for viewers after they’ve finished their current one.
“The idea is that users will get more information on topics that interest them — but a growing criticism of the feature is that it directs users to more and more extreme content. With abortion, I found, even fairly nonpolitical videos were quickly followed by more heated content, generally of an anti-abortion bent.”
It appears that more viewers were watching the pro-life videos, which was pushing them higher up in searches. That was the problem to Glaser.
So the results needed to be artificially altered so a pro-abortion stance would appear at the top rather than the pro-life stance.
Nationally, abortions are on a decline, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, as is support for it.
So, to push the abortion agenda, the messaging needs to be given new life. Artificially enhancing internet search results is just one way of accomplishing that.
Glaser wrote that she also wrote to Google about their search results and was told that “our ranking systems are designed to return relevant results from the most authoritative sources available.” It should be noted that what each platform determines is an “authoritative source” varies, and they may lean toward those that favor leftist ideologies.
For some, this is just one more example of why an alternative platform to YouTube is desperately needed. For YouTube to apparently so quickly cower to a leftist demand is alarming. If it truly supports free speech such a demand should not play a role in search results and algorithms.
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