Friday, April 30, 2010

YouTube's "Recommended for You" is Horribly Flawed

Recently, YouTube has introduced a prominent "Recommended for You" section on their homepage. They explain:

The "Recommended for You" module picks videos based on your viewing history. To see your viewing history, click on the History link at the top right of the page; if you want to clear your history and recommendations, click the "Clear Viewing History" button on that page.
Remember, you will get better, more specific, and more consistent recommendations by logging in (or signing up for a YouTube account, if you don't already have one).

That is all well and good, except for one major flaw. They seem to assume that you enjoy the recent video you watched. Being open to opposing viewpoints, I recently clicked on a video link from a blog that ostensibly supported a claim against Joseph Ratzinger. While slightly unflattering, it wasn't in any manner scandalous.

However, some of the videos that YouTube then started recommending to me were vile. Just "Because You Watched..." a video, it does not follow logically that you enjoyed it or desire exposure to similar videos.

Why ought I be compelled to shield myself from these bigots by clearing my history as YouTube requires? Perhaps YouTube and her parent Google should back off on this aggressive personalization by default.