Following in the footsteps of companies like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, YouTube this week confirmed that it is “experimenting” with a way to organize its users Subscription Feeds that removes reverse chronological order and uses algorithms to “personalize” the video order. The news came from the @TeamYouTube Twitter account after it responded to a disgruntled user (via iGeneration).
Every successful online service has the same problem. User subscribes to / follows / friends way too many people, user is overwhelmed with too much to read, watch, listen to or view and user checks-out of the service citing an emotional sort of bankruptcy of being overloaded.
YouTube has been very successful. Some people subscribe to over 100 channels and some channels are posting daily videos 20 minutes in length. I now spend 2 hours a day on YouTube before watching 2 hours a day of real-television. I watch every video from every channel I subscribe to and once a month, I remove 5 or so channels that I no longer find interesting instead of just skipping their video.
Due to people not like me who try to live their life as efficiently as possible and not let technology control them, a year ago YouTube started asking people to enable notifications for channels you subscribe to. Using this data, they start to hide some videos from creators on this URL: “http://youtube.com/feed/subscriptions” because of overload. Creators started losing a ton of money so they started asking the people who still get their content to “click the notification bell” Sound Familiar?
Because Facebook did the same thing. People were liking over 500 pages. Algorithmically, if the user didn’t like, comment or visit that page for a few weeks, Facebook would slowly start removing those posts from the News feed then telling publishers to “boost” their post with cash to show it to everyone that liked their page to begin with. YouTube has been doing the same thing and today this news.
I combat this algorithm directly by never watching a suggested video on YouTube, never watching videos that are on YouTube.com and only watching things from channels I subscribe to never veering off the subscriptions page and I watch every video from every subscription.
Here’s how I’m going to completely remove myself from the algorithm and I suggest you do the same. I still ‘follow’ people on Facebook and Twitter. I do it via my RSS reader despite not using those services anymore. Be logged in to YouTube and go to this link: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/6224202?hl=en
At the bottom of your subscriptions page, export your OPML file of every channel you subscribe to.
Import it as a folder into your RSS server (I use Fever) and now YouTube’s algorithm won’t screw you over every chance it gets. If you subscribe to too many channels, do something about it and unsubscribe. Spam, FOMO and social media overload doesn’t happen to you. You control it. Don’t let these company implement an algorithm that decides what you see because eventually, you’re going to make a stupid post to facebook like “I don’t know how Trump got elected” because you only see posts from the far-left so you in your mind thought“no one is voting for Trump” then half of the country did because of an algorithm that showed you only what you like.
but seriously, RSS is awesome.