Tubes and Bubbles – Topological confinement of recommendations on YouTube

The paper “Tubes and Bubbles – Topological confinement of recommendations on YouTube” by Camille Roth, Antoine Mazières and Telmo Menezes just got published in PLOS ONE.

Contrarily to popular belief about so-called “filter bubbles”, several recent studies show that recommendation algorithms generally do not contribute much, if at all, to user confinement; in some cases, they even seem to increase serendipity [see e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].
Our study demonstrates however that this may not be the case on YouTube: be it in topological, topical or temporal terms, we show that the landscape defined by non-personalized YouTube recommendations is generally likely to confine users in homogeneous clusters of videos. Besides, content for which confinement appears to be most significant also happens to garner the highest audience and thus plausibly viewing time.

The paper is available as an open-access article. We also set up a small vulgarization website, and you may read the CNRS Press release.