“Out of the Rabbit Hole: From Radicalization to Amplification of Far-Right Content Online” – Becca LEWIS | Stanford Cyber Policy Center

Algorithmic radicalization (or radicalization pipeline) is the concept that algorithms on popular social media sites such as YouTube and Facebook drive users toward progressively more extreme content over time, leading to them developing radicalized extremist political views. Algorithms record user interactions, from likes/dislikes to amount of time spent on posts, to generate endless media aimed to keep users engaged. Through echo chamber channels, the consumer is driven to be more polarized through preferences in media and self-confirmation.

Algorithmic radicalization remains a controversial phenomenon as it is often not in the best interest of social media companies to remove echo chamber channels. Though social media companies have admitted to algorithmic radicalization’s existence, it remains unclear how each will manage this growing threat. (Wikipedia)

Conventional wisdom suggests that conspiracy theories and far-right propaganda thrive mainly at the end of algorithmic rabbit holes, in the deep, dark corners of the internet. This presentation will show that the opposite is true by explaining how in fact, harmful ideas gain traction through the charisma and popularity of internet celebrities in mainstream social media contexts. Through her extensive research on far-right YouTubers, Becca Lewis argues that instead of merely focusing our responses on the threat of algorithmic rabbit holes, we must also understand the power of amplification through thriving alternative media systems on- and offline.