How YouTube Fuelled The Anti-Social Justice Movement

Photo: Brian Ach (Getty)

There’s a reason why YouTube’s “trending” icon is a flame. Influence on the $US100 ($138) billion video sharing site grows uncontested, spreads to whatever is closest to it and can destroy whatever it feeds on. 

For years now, a certain brand of pundit has flourished on YouTube by peddling videos that purport to fly in the face of mainstream liberal media narratives. Audiences tune in to these politically potent internet celebrities for riling takedowns of feminism, affirmative action, taxes on the rich or whatever’s hot that day.

In a new Data & Society report, researcher Rebecca Lewis names this class of YouTuber “alternative influencers” and argues that their rise is due, in great part, to YouTube incentivising the creation of edgy and sometimes shocking content.

In her report, Lewis attempts to explain the origin, tactics and interconnectedness of these alternative influencers, who are united under the shared opposition to what they call “social justice warriors,” and include some of the alt-right, conspiracy theorists, GamerGaters, the “intellectual dark web” and trolls.

She argues that several of these influencers found their footing during the 2014 GamerGate controversy, which popularised and connected YouTubers who supported GamerGate. Kotaku interviewed Lewis about her report, “Alternative Influence: Broadcasting the Reactionary Right on YouTube,” and the challenges of studying a new breed of political provocateur:

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Cecilia D’Anastasio: How would you describe the alternative influence network?

Rebecca Lewis: The network is a loose connection of scholars, media pundits, and internet celebrities who broadcast on YouTube. They embody a range of political positions and ideologies, but they are united by a common rejection of progressive social justice movements and of the mainstream media.

D’Anastasio: How does this network influence the mainstream media?

Lewis: One thing my co-author and I found [in our previous research, Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online] was ... this step ladder of amplification. A conspiracy theory—say, for example, about Hillary Clinton’s health—would run amok on 4chan and 8chan in the summer of 2016.

Then the YouTuber Paul Joseph Watson (who is affiliated with InfoWars, although his YouTube account has not been taken down) amplified those conspiracy theories. When, a few weeks later, she did get sick at a rally, the media was primed to fit into these narratives they’d already shaped.

I got really interested in the role influencers like Paul Joseph Watson were playing in this ecosystem. What I found was this entire network connected through the YouTube algorithm and through their own collaborations, seeking to take down and replace mainstream media. This network had a lot of roots in GamerGate.

D’Anastasio: Can you explain how?

Lewis: There were several different historical threads that led to the growth of this network I was looking at. GamerGate was one of them.

The main thing I found when looking at this network and attempting to trace its history was several of them got their start broadcasting during GamerGate. On YouTube, there will be news cycles that sometimes reflect the news cycles happening in the mainstream news and sometimes are independent. And just as with the mainstream media, a lot of this is dependent on viewership and monetisation.

So if one influencer makes a video on a topic and it gets a lot of traction, more YouTubers are likely to comment on that topic and react to it. This practice is also baked into YouTube culture more broadly - think of viral videos and all of the responses and spin-off videos they create. Audience reception and engagement drive the hype cycle on YouTube. This is particularly worrisome when the most popular topics are about harassing an individual or a group.

GamerGate was an early instance of that. It was a focal point, an event, and people started making content about it. It’s tough to ascertain motives, but almost certainly there was a mix of people genuinely having interest in the topic and also knowing it was likely to generate views.

D’Anastasio: In your report, you mention that Sargon of Akkad built his following based on his videos about feminism in gaming. Now, he calls himself a “classical liberal” and talks about identity politics, the alt-right and is anti-progressive. He criticises Black Lives Matter, the #MeToo movement and other mainstream topics in progressive politics. How did he move into the alt-right arena?

Lewis: Pretty early on, he began making content targeting feminism and more often than not targeting [Feminist Frequency critic] Anita Sarkeesian who was a big target in GamerGate related activities. He was one of the staples of this early anti-feminist content and over time, that emerged as a distinct genre on YouTube: Anti-SJW content.

The “response” video is a big example of that, where they will play a clip from a popular social justice YouTuber account or a mainstream celebrity devoted to social justice and then they will respond to it in their own content, making fun of it, being derisive.

His relationship to the alt right is really complicated. When he engages with the alt-right, he is more often than not debating them. He positions himself as a centrist between two extremes.

He rejects identity politics of any kind. He alludes that white nationalism and white supremacy are identity politics for white people. That is a false equivalency in and of itself. One form of identity politics is focusing on oppression and the other is focusing on maintaining power but that’s his take on it.

He’s clear he rejects the alt-right. However, he often appears in content with alt-right figures and white nationalist figures. I mention an event in my report, this now-infamous debate that happened between Sargon of Akkad and [white nationalist] Richard Spencer on the YouTuber Andy Warski’s channel.

I argue that even though they were debating against each other, there was a symbiotic relationship. They were broadcasting to a shared audience, bringing two potentially distinct audiences together. So Sargon was introducing his anti-SJW fans to alt-right talking points for the sake of entertainment and views and clicks.

A lot of people after that talked about how they really felt compelled by Spencer’s arguments. Having watched him, I quote a commenter in my report who says, “It is immediately apparent that he’s on a whole different level.”

A lot of people were impressed by Spencer’s performance. A lot of people in the comments thought it was a win, just having this conversation, bringing these audiences together. What I‘m trying to parse out is even debating against these people can end up feeding into their broader agenda.

Whether Sargon is doing it purposefully or not, he can end up benefiting the white nationalist cause by appearing together with them. He does talk about having a shared opposition to the left social justice with them.

I include a quote in the report where he says, “We have the same enemies, right? I mean, you guys hate the SJWs, I hate the SJWs. I want to see the complete destruction of social justice. . . . If the alt-right took the place of the SJWs, I would have a lot less to fear.”

D’Anastasio: Like you say in the report, full-time YouTubers obviously have to be constantly pumping out content, and especially content they know will be broadly appealing or provocative. And a lot of time time today, we see that news cycles on YouTube often reference the same people and events. Was this a model that existed prior to GamerGate or was it just then forming?

Lewis: A lot of what these influencers were doing is following the basic structure of influencer culture on YouTube. Influencer culture wasn’t as fully blossomed [in 2014]. It hadn’t fully emerged by then, but it was well underway. From the first couple of years in, for many years now, YouTube has been marketing itself as a place where people can broadcast themselves and they’ve marketed it as a place where people can have their own voice. YouTube’s own marketing has framed it as a counter to mainstream culture and mainstream media, whether it’s news or entertainment.

There have been possibilities for monetisation since early on. People have long been able to foray fame into monetisation. They were following an emerging trend that was underway. On the other hand, GamerGate was a significant event and it helped grow the audience of many people.

D’Anastasio: In your report, you note that some of today’s alternative influencer network on YouTube—Sargon of Akkad, Dave Rubin of The Rubin Report, etc.—owes something to the GamerGate movement and how GamerGaters talked about what they were doing. Can you elaborate?

Lewis: [Gamergate] was a moment in time when people were willing to work together across subcultures to obtain a mutually beneficial goal. You saw gamers working with trolls who worked together with men’s rights activists.

They were each distinct subcultures but they had the common thread of being anti-feminist, willing to attack feminists in that moment. That willingness to work across subcultures and lines has carried over into the media manipulation efforts in this alternative influence network.

There are people with a really wide range of ideologies in this network. There are people who call themselves white nationalists, people who call themselves libertarians, and people who are what they call “classical liberals.”

But they all have a common thread of being anti-progressive social justice, anti-SJW, which is itself a really vague and malleable term that also is an older term that first gained widespread traction during GamerGate.

You see this common thread that ties together these really disparate groups and they form these symbiotic relationships around their shared opposition essentially.

D’Anastasio: How does the way YouTube works as a platform impact the sort of content full-time YouTubers make on it, and especially YouTubers in the alternative political sphere? What it sounds like is that, to get more views, YouTubers need to be peddling increasingly extreme and engaging content to stay relevant and exciting.

Lewis: Absolutely. One instance we can see clearly in this research is that while we talk about how influencers can radicalise audiences, the opposite can happen too. When influencers dip their toe into creating this type of content, their audiences might let them know they want more of this content or more extreme content. Then they have a direct monetary incentive to create more extreme content.

It’s hard to parse individual motivations, but we can see a broader feedback loop emerge where audiences demand more extreme content from creators, creators create more extreme content, court more radicalised audiences, who demand more extreme content and it becomes a dangerous feedback loop. In some ways they, have figured out how to game the platform, but in another sense, they’re using it as it was intended to be used, which I think is troubling.

D’Anastasio: You talk in your report about how a lot of YouTubers who fall under this “alternative influencer” category will make videos in response to perceived attacks against them, which generate more views.

I saw that you received some significant harassment after putting out your report, in part because the report was put on blast by some of the named YouTubers in new videos, like Sargon of Akkad. What are your feelings about the response to your report?

Lewis: The attention and subsequent harassment is one symptom of a larger problem. A lot of people have, understandably, been focusing on the network graph I included in the report.

But that graph, while illustrative, is not actually the point of the report. One of the main reasons why I wanted to do this research is to open the hood on YouTube’s business model and how these influencers profit from it. YouTube is an important source of information, but as a platform, they are getting a free pass when it comes to accountability.

Data & Society

D’Anastasio: To what extent does this affect real life politics or interpersonal relationships? Is this all just online?

Lewis: I think it’s important to do more research into to what extent this network shapes broader public discourse. If its shaping the views of viewers and influencers, then that is reality. The idea that any of this can exist purely online, I think, is a fallacy.

We saw that with other communities leading up to the 2016 election as well—there was a lot of reporting that happened then about 4chan and 8chan and trolling culture, and people dismissing it as online ridiculousness. What we found was that this can feed into real-world issues of racism and sexism in tangible ways. I think you have the same thing here.

None of this exists purely online. Its real people making and viewing the content. Real people are viewing it. We need to treat it like a real issue.


    *settles in with popcorn* Dis threads gun be good.

      I mean if people weren't interested in channels that discussed these things, they'd never get traction. if they are so bad then maybe the channels or media that people 'should' be supporting have issues that need to be addressed.

        Open discussion of topics is what needs to be encouraged by all means.

          Definitely. A shame my post got deemed inappropriate and removed before being posted.

          Oh my gosh yes! People wonder why these "anti-social justice" channels seem to be flourishing, is because as soon as you say something like "affirmative action is inherently discriminatory" (which it is *shrug*) on any form of (social)media, you're immediately labelled, attacked and blocked or, in the case of such juggernauts as facebook and twitter as a whole, you're actively censored. it's almost as if these people don't want an open discussion of topics

            Yes, everyone else is wrong, only you are right. It's not fair everyone just rolls their eyes at you and move on, no open discussions!

              That's not this. You sound exactly like them though, I feel bad for you

            That's a great point, affirmative action is inherently discriminatory. When all parties are treated equitably discrimination is a rueful thing. Equally, when discrimination is implemented to have an inequitable or negative/damaging/obtrusive effect, it is a rueful thing.

            The important distinction in a conversation about affirmative action is acknowledging from the start that it is a discriminatory mechanism implemented to modify a system toward greater equitability.

            That acknowledgement has a small but important caveat: you need to be able to understand discrimination has multiple definitions and meanings, some of which are context-dependent, and - contingent upon those - that it is not inherently negative.

            Affirmative action is inherently discriminatory; discrimination is not inherently negative. The latter part of the formulation may help inform why wielding the former as a cudgel is frowned upon.

        Could you please elaborate? On your basic premise, it could be construed that racism, sexism, etc, all should be considered valid given that they gather a not-insignificant audience.

    Wow did anyone else get 14 banner ads on their way scrolling to the comments?

      I've given up, Kotaku has joined the adblocker list.

      Welcome to my world.. i use my tablet and chrome doesnt use add ons for the mob version...

      It wasnt as bad but with the new site refurb months back it got to stupid levels of crapton of ads ... whats more annoyimg is it loads in batches so u think youve finally hit the bottom.. hit "reply" but then it loads the next ad and youve just clicked on a stupid ad....

      Definitely, it has become increasingly worse over the past year. Currently this page has 5 rows of ads before the comments and 9 below. This is simply exploitative and an abuse of anybody who chooses not to adblock in order to support e-businesses.

    Over the top social justice is the cause of the anti movement. Social justice is fine, but some of the stuff seen today is moronic

    As Newton's third law states:

    " For every action their is an equal and opposite reaction."

      I agree with this sentiment. Every cause, no matter the side, has always created a counter-cause when they've gone too far. Whether that counter-cause has been in the name of positivity or negativity, it's been because the observation of people has been 'you're pushing your limits too far' and they feel the need to push back.

      I don't think symmetry of forces is really relevant to progressivism. Lots of good (and bad) ideas can gain traction and end up with everyone on the same page.
      Newton's laws explicitly prohibit that for changes in momentum.

        Alternatively, as with science, viewpoints need to be tested and stretched to assure their validity and strength. As per freedom of speech, one should have the right to say what they want, but should not be free from the consequences of such words on the back end of saying what they wanted to. It's not simply a case of saying "I have Cause A, so Cause B negates it", but moreso, "I have my Cause A and therefor I have people with Cause B who are testing my beliefs, now, are my beliefs justified and right, or do they need to be refined, analysed and re-evaluated to be potentially more effective?" That's how we move forward, by testing ourselves, analysing and going forward from there.

        Upvoting as I don't think this comment deserved a downvote personally, so evening it out :)

          That moment when you feel obliged to upvote people you don't agree with because auto moderation gives the bad feels.

      Yep, technically you are right. But when put in context, and analysed as intelligent and compassionate beings, should we agree that we need to validate things like anti-anti-racists, only because they are an expected reaction to the anti-racists? At which point tolerating the views of the intolerant do nothing but helping them while crippling those who try to combat them?


    As a small note, this is largely a story about the YouTube algorithm and how that functions. Try and keep that in mind separate to individual views about the content itself (since that's a much less trodden path and ultimately a more interesting conversation than people throwing out lazy acronyms around the shop).

      I mean it's obvious what was going to happen given the current political climate. I think a better story would have been how Google algorithm fuels conspiracy theories especially right after disatsers such as school shootings. Often right after these events the search results on Google are loony articlea by sites such as breibart and infowars instead of factual information.

      Are you surprised really? Come on you guys put a click-bait headline on it.

    I've noticed a definite conflation on youtube between anti-sjw, and right wing.

    For example, I recently watched commentary about some recent thing with Sarkeesian (who I generally think is a nutjob), and now my Youtube algorithm thinks I'm a right wing nutjob (when in reality, I am much more on the left, I've just never really given much time to identity politics, as my own experiences have shown socio-economic factors to determine one's social mobility much more than gender or race, at least in Australia).

    Shrug. It'd be nice if both the regressive left and alt-right (well, most of the right) could just die in a fire.

      Guess that last paragraph illustrated your intolerance for views other than what you believe is right. Thats the problem, whether you are a progressive or conservative.

        Its funny you mention that, as I'm sick of both sides propensity for treating others as a subclass of human, whilst portending themselves to be victims (where in reality, most of the commentariat are privileged in society in some form or another, and are almost overwhelmingly middle class).

        Furthermore, both make it impossible to have nuanced discussions on subjects such as sexism, racism, immigration, etc because they both love their megaphones, and attacking 'the enemy'.

        I'm happy for you to call me intolerant to the intolerant, but a man has only so much leeway to give.

          Well according to the lovely SJW's and hell, the majority of feminists, as a straight white male, I am not allowed to have any sort of input or discussion on any subject.

          And also, I have a sister-wife and have had relations with my mother, should have been aborted and my eyebrows are ugly *shrug*

            I’m a straight white male and I’ve never had a feminist or an SJW suppress my input.

            Sounds like your free speech might just be losing to the power of your opponents free speech.

            That’s free speech for ya.

              Free speech? Free Speech? At what point do you think we have free speech? *im assuming like me you are in Australia?* We have no laws around free speech at all, only America does. I honestly wish we had the balls to write it into law because our country really needs it.

            At least one out of those four things is true and I am not gonna lie, you got some hideous eyebrows.

              I grew up with Agro as an idol.. my eyebrow is in honour of him haha

            This is a dishonest strawman argument. When you make arguments like this, do expect being called out (which, by the way, is not "suppressing you", otherwise you simply wouldn't be able to keep doing it).

            Present a honest, thoughtful and respectful argument and I'd be happy to listen to your input.

              No it's not, according to feminist theory, as a straight white man, I do not suffer from any sort of opression, and because of that and with it's stipulative definitions of things such as Sexism and Racism, I do not get a voice on such matters, unless it is in support of such things.

              For example: I like to use the story of Frederick Demond Scott as an example of a black person being racist and committing hate crimes against white people. (As an aside, you should look up his story and such, to see how I drew such conclusions). But, according to the feminist theory (popularised by Judith H Katz in 1979 and fully adopted by feminists with the introduction of the idea of "intersectionality") of "Prejudice plus Power". He is not a racist and did not commit any hate crimes (and as such, was not charged with it). He was just "prejudiced" apparently

              I argue full well, that he is a racist and did commit hate crimes against white people. Yet if it was a white man doing it vs any minority group, it's considered racist and a hate crime.

              I'd also like to point out Sarah Jeong from the NY Times, I think it is, and her tweets in regards to white people. They are perfectly acceptable, but when Candace Owens, tweeted the EXACT same things but changed out white for blacks, Jews, etc. Twitter banned her.

              The hypocrisy is strong with these people and they hide behind stipulative definitions to shield themselves from it

                As promised, I'm listening. I'll explain a bit what I meant with "strawman argument". I see that you have cases. I don't ignore them, and what's more, I'm sure there are several more cases. Heck, here's one of my own for your enjoyment: Once I had a huge fight with a self-proclaimed feminist that was advocating that all male should be castrated because that would end not only with sexism but also wars, inequity and every other evil in the world, which she blamed basically on testosterone. This "feminist" also believed that any woman that sided or defended men should suffer loss of privileges in the ensuing "utopia".

                Not only I strongly disagree with her violent, discriminatory beliefs, I also disagree with her being "feminist" given that she advocated for the oppression of females that thought differently. What I am trying to say here is that every single movement, including the best-intending ones, the ones based entirely on compassion, understanding and progress will generate outliers who will take those ideals to self-serving, violent extremes, just as bad or worse than the evils they're allegedly fighting. This is unfortunate, but also an inevitable result of human nature. There are also the ones who are hypocritical and dishonest, or those who only profess to believe in social causes because they have set themselves up for profit.

                So while I'm not going to pretend that such people don't exist among "my side", I also cannot allow you or anybody to use those isolated cases to represent the whole thing or to argue that it proves that the whole thing is just as bad. Let's talk about racism, for example: are you a racist? I certainly hope not. But if you are not a racist, why would you seek to weaken and discredit those that fight racism? Even if there are some bad eggs among them if you use them to delegitimise the whole group of anti-racists... who is going to fight the racists? You're certainly not doing it. So again, which group benefits the most from your efforts?

                Last but not least, I want to say that although I'm not white, I am a straight male, so when somebody /actually/ discriminates against you for being that (like the woman I mentioned above) I am going to stand with you, and that in every opportunity I find, I am combatting elements on the anti-sexism camp I subscribe to who go that far or who are hypocritical or even just misguided.

                  I actually don't understand why someone would downvote that comment...

                  The issue with the sexism/racism thing though, is that the "prejudice plus power" card is what is being taught and touted as being the be all end all. So according to what is being taught in gender studies, etc. Straight white males are the only brings capable of racism and sexism. I blame Vic Uni for forcing me to take that as a core unit in my psych degree, the amount of hypocrisy was sickening.

                  The thing is, how does saying "anyone can be raicst/sexist" weaken or discredit any movement? If anything, it's trying to make it more inclusive which is essentially what "intersectionality" is all about isn't it?

                It's really sad how everybody hates on racism except for when it happens to someone Caucasian, you see many people get on either CNN or FOX and be blatantly racist and even when called out, they instantly act like a victim themselves.
                Look at what just happened in South Africa, people denying it as a hate crime when people were legit being targeted for being white.
                That kinda shit makes me sick.

                  People are flat out denying it. It's rather sad to see people all around the world celebrating that marijuana is now legal in South Africa, yet openly deny what atrocities are being commited against the white population.

                  A lady at my church lost her brother and nephew 3 weeks ago in a targeted attack on their farm, left hanging from a tree and not a peep from anyone. She's already written "major news" to bring awareness to it, only to be turned away because it is such a "divisive subject". Smh

                (Replying to your latest comment as the thread ran it's course).

                I think the problem with the way you (and many others) see the "+power" argument is a bit of a misinterpretation, and I'll fully agree that some very vocal and/or passionate but misinformed people on my side may have contributed to this confusion. When we say that an X-ism necessarily involves power, we're not saying that it is impossible to discriminate against the people in power. Rather, that the discrimination that becomes systemic is the one that is backed by sheer numbers and endorsed directly or indirectly by a majority of political players.

                As said in my previous post, this doesn't mean that the numerous cases of discrimination targeting the majority are irrelevant; it merely means that one issue is bigger than the other and that arguing that both issues are equivalent only serves to slow down the improvement of the bigger issue. Isolated cases must be dealt with independently (but still must be dealt with, I do not approve any attitude that implies "serves them well for being [part of the majority demographic]"), yet doing this shouldn't constitute a cessation or diminishment of the fight against the systemic discrimination.

                As I said, I am a straight male, so I get you: Sometimes it /feels/ as though we cannot get a break, that we are expected to bow our heads and carry the weight of the world in contrition for what the more execrable members of our demographic do. This is a matter of perception, though, as our demographic is simply unaccustomed to being "in the wrong". Again, yes, sometimes there will be people who actually will come at us, while sitting innocently just because we are "cis" male. I'm not going to say that this is not unfair, but I say that we can take it "like a man". Here are some pointers:

                - First, analyse what is being said. Are you personally being attacked and accused, or were you simply swept in a blanket generalisation? Generalisation is not great and it's a good thing to politely remind people of this, but it's also important not to take it personally. Many times generalisation is just used as a figure of speech to talk about the people who are guilty and is assumed that the innocent understand that they are not being included.

                - Second, understand the gravity of the accusation. Are people outraged because of a genuine and appalling case of sexism (or other discrimination)? If so, put your personal feelings aside even if they got singed a bit by careless generalisations. Interrupting the momentum of people uniting to cry against said discrimination just so you (and everybody who felt that way) with a true but inconsequent "I am not like that!" so people can stop and validate your indignation is only serving to lower down to the same old inefficient simmer what otherwise could be a boil that cannot be ignored by the powers to be.

                Also, do you know what's the most convincing, loudest, most efficient way to tell people "I am not like that!"? Join them in decrying those who, unlike you, are guilty of discriminatory behaviour. It's not as though you owe them any kind of loyalty just because they are in your same demographic. It will send a powerful message to both sides: to the sexist people that they don't count with your support, that they are fewer than they thought, and to the people fighting them, a reminder that indeed, not all of us are like that.

                - Third, understand your privilege. I'm not trying to say that your feelings are not valid or valuable just because being a straight male and having it comparatively easy. I know mine are! However, I also understand that if my personal feelings are getting a bit brushed aside in order to try to enact real change for people who have been systemicly discriminated in ways that affect their bodies, minds, finances, etc, it's really not that big of a price for me to accept. Hopefully, one day we'll reach the kind of equity that will allow me to protest for my hurt feelings because that's the worst kind of discrimination happening at the moment. That time is not now, though.

                - Fourth, try to understand where these people are coming from. Many of them are genuinely angry over legitimate discrimination against themselves or people they know. They are not stopping to think, they just want to cry out to try to make society stop and listen. Needless to say, they are at that moment not at their most thoughtful or considerate. Gauge their suffering/fear/outrage against your own and give a pass to the one with bigger, more pressing causes. Later, when people have calmed down, you can tell them that in their outrage they hurt you as well and any decent person will apologise.

                - Last, remember the fact that I mentioned above: There will always be real assholes among the people with genuine intentions. They will actually attack YOU and blame you for things that you haven't done, only because what you are. Simply disregard these people, rather than getting angry with the whole group. If there any sort of moderation in whichever platform or environment this is happening, do report them; this is not acceptable and I nobody should put up with it.

      The problem with the alt-right is it's a catch all phrase, you can be left but not extreme left and the extreme left will call you right wing just because you disagree with each other on one topic. Its not to say it's just the extreme left. Most groups are getting as bad as each other and labels are being thrown around everywhere that they are nearing uselessness.

      Yeah. I had the same issue for a while. I watched a single video that had jordan peterson in it and then for the next month all my suggested videos were "Liberals owned!" and "SJW's Destroyed". I feel sorry for anyone who watches that type of content.

        I love my independent media, rather than watching network tv. I've been watching indie journalists like Timcast, who himself identifies as slightly left of center for example. Yet my algorithm suddenly pops up with some really right sided stuff. Imagine my disdain when I had my laptop in my classroom and opened youtube, then the kinda videos that almost made it to the projector lol. Lucky I always have 'extended display' going and never, ever 'mirror'...

    This article is a ridiculous over-reach. The you-tube algorithm just suggests videos on the topics or views that the viewer watches. If you watch anti- social justice videos then it will suggest similar videos, if you watch social justice or progressive videos, it will populate your feed with these videos. Hardly rocket science or a conspiracy. People are only going to watch videos they have an interest in not just because you-tube suggests it.

      I don't think anybody is saying that it's conspiratory? It's more a discussion whether YouTube has a responsibility not to allow plainly intolerant or hateful videos be disseminated in the way described by you.

      The thing is that recommendation algorithms don't work in a vacuum. They aren't just working from data like "people who searched for and watched video A went on to search for and watch video B". They also deal with "people who watched video A went on to watch video B, which was recommended to them".

      If you get to a point where the majority of transitions come from recommendations, it can be difficult to tell whether the algorithm is just showing people what they'd want to view anyway, or leading them somewhere they otherwise might not find.

    It’s almost like political polarisation is a bad thing...

    People are sick of being told that they’re inherently bad and should feel bad because somebody else has a more difficult life. I don’t like the term “SJW” but it’s hard to think of a more appropriate term for far left wingers desperately trying to explain why they’re better than you and why you and your problems don’t matter or exist. Then up springs a channel that says the opposite - of course people sick of that message will tune in.

    Also GamerGate hasn’t been relevant for years now, it’s almost a meaningless term now.

      It feels like 'gamergate' gets trod out when places are looking for clicks. Moviebob, who used to be relevant at one time, but now clings to life on his channel barely, brings it up *all the time* like it's a current major issue. The dude was hugely relevant around that period and became a mouthpiece, now, he's simply using the term as a way to generate clicks. It's the old 'numbing effect', when it's said over and over and over... noone gives a shit.

        Exactly. Whenever I see “...has ties to GamerGate” I roll my eyes. Yeah, some people did some horrible things under that banner... years and years ago.

          I think it's expressed best by Shoe on head in a recent video with an outtake. She mocks someone bringing it up by pointing out it's 2018. In her outtake she accidentally says 2016, laughs, and then points out how ridiculous it is that she's still talking about it.

          Two years is not long ago by any measure. Hell, you can still get a Neopet, why would you expect an Internet-based loudly vocal community to just dissolve and disappear in two years? Any short trip to 4chan or certain subreddits will quickly change your mind.

            Because it’s all shitposting of no relevance? I can’t remember the last time I saw something that self identified as GamerGate. These days whenever something of note happens, the term is applied by somebody else to make someone look like scum.

              There are people who have researched and investigated this. Shitposters, teenage edgelords and the such are indeed the thick of the movement. However, there are people who sit behind, who do not talk publicly or make big displays, but who subtly inflame these masses and are behind every semi-organised harassment effort against key figures.

              It may be true that GamerGate, going by that specific name, with one very specific half-baked justification for their militancy is no longer relevant. But the people behind it are also behind more contemporary movements such as ComicsGate.

                Dude, that sounds like a deluded conspiracy theory. It isn’t maybe because there’s an overlap in the gaming and comic communities...?

                  I am telling you this has been researched. People have been interviewed. Why is your first knee-jerk impulse to believe it's a conspiracy? Why is your bias so strong that you cannot even consider a challenge to your belief? So sexist people are non-existent, is what you're saying? Or maybe just a few randos, incapable of organising and pursuing definite goals? Is it truly more believable to think that this is an elaborate fantasy created and maintained by those virtue-signaling SJWs to get their outrage on?

                  A downvote as an answer to my questions? Surely you can do better.

                  @pylgrim maybe provide unbiased legitimacy sources demonstrating this conspiracy and I might?

                  You keep calling it a conspiracy as though I were talking about secret handshakes and a cabal of key personalities infiltrating power positions or something. I'm simply talking about a bunch of anti-progressive men that got together on the internet and have been shaping the conversation online in certain ways.

                  But sure, I can give you something to get you started. Ever heard about Mike Cernovich? One of the names who gained traction back in GamerGate, he went to become important part when not the chief motivator in other movements such as Pizzagate, the theory that Hillary was deathly sick, targetted bullying and harassing, digging up old dirt on prominent liberal-leaning celebrities such as James Gunn and Dan Harmon, and more recently, as I said before, ComicsGate. He's an unashamed rape apologist, and has frequently stated contempt for truth and logic, advocating for naked manipulation and weaponised harassment. He has a huge following in twitter and youtube, which he shamelessly riles into attacking other people/causes. You can find a primer on his life and deeds here: (I am aware that you can allege that the site is not impartial, but really, with a figure so intentionally polarising, you only ever find either sycophantic apologism or biting mordacity. Still, the quotes and facts included are all properly referenced and can easily be verified--it's not like the guy is shy or secretive.)

                  Note that he's only one of many, many GG notable players who ever since have kept stirring the pot and gaining followers, ever as the "movements" they incite and spearhead change names (but never motivation or targets).

        When MovieBob came out in defense of Ghostbusters, despite being against it originally, it was pretty telling he's only in it for political reasons now.

          Moviebobs a parasitic opportunist these days, nothing more.

        It's basically whenever Kotaku need that little extra justification for hating something and talking about how evil it is, they just tie it to GamerGate... Regardless of how relevant it may or may not actually be.

    Just once i'd like to see these kinds of articles follow their ideas to their logical conclusion, but they always stop just short of disrupting any cognitive dissonance.

    "Hey, these "alt-right" influencers use networks to solidify and spread their message across the internet in sometimes insidious ways." should be followed up with "I wonder if that's true of the extreme Left as well?"

    So often these left-wing journalists / researchers / etc. are staring at a mirror, not a window, and it's getting absurd how rarely you see an admission of that.

    (Standard disclaimer stating I am not right-wing, but am in fact an increasing frustrated ally of the Left that really doesn't want to witness their self-defeat for the thousandth time. Crazy how I have to write this constantly.)

      There's been a trend in recent years of people tiring of this sort of behaviour, both from the far right and the far left, people wandering back to a more middling ground. Not in the exact center, but more a center left and center right area, where they actually *want* discussion as opposed to confrontation. The identity politics that's ruled the roost for so long, the screaming matches, the lack of maturity and the stupidity from *both sides* has been utterly ridiculous and now it's taken its toll. I'm glad this has been happening more and more, because finally we're seeing the cultural change happening openly rather than behind closed doors.

        There was a time when I would say "Well obviously i'm left-wing." Now I say "Well obviously calling yourself anything is a mistake."

        I don't even like the term centrist because it places a label on me that can be used to discount my opinion.

        It's crazy how it's gotten to the point where "centrist" is now an insult (the online Left hate centrists). It's always born from this complete mischaracterisation of a centrist as the exact median between two points. As if a centrist hears that the Left want to kill no puppies, and the Right want to kill all the puppies, so the sensible thing is to kill half the puppies. Being a centrist means actually hearing the question before you give your answer. That's all.

        I agree with you, it's becoming easier to declare yourself a believer in nuance. But the change still feels glacial.

          That's not what centrism is at all, not least because it implies that anyone who isn't a centrist doesn't bother hearing the question before giving an answer. If you hear, for example, a question about immigration and your answer is "all foreigners are criminals", it doesn't matter how much you 'heard' the question or thought long and hard about it, your response is absolutely not centrist.

          Centrism is the notion that traditionally dichotomous ideologies can be and ideally are mixed - capitalism and socialism, freedom and obligation, etc. In practice it tends to mean that a person supports a mix of policies from both the political left and right.

          If that's what you are that's perfectly fine, but let's not pretend centrism is some uniquely enlightened position that reflects higher thought and sensibility than other positions on the political spectrum, because it isn't.

          The left, online or otherwise, doesn't hate centrists or centrism. You'll typically find that what's disliked are the people who have clearly left- or right-aligned ideologies but mislabel themselves as centrist with the goal of shifting the Overton window more towards their preferred alignment. As with all things naturally that's included dislike of people who are doing the same thing for naive reasons rather than malicious ones, but the characteristic of incorrectly claiming a centrist position is a common denominator. It's not centrists that are the problem, it's 'centrists', if you understand what I mean by that.

            Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You're right, centrism has more nuance than I implied it does, I wasn't intending to have its definition be taken literally, more as an metaphor for the way of thinking. Funnily enough, this is exactly why I think it's a mistake to call yourself anything.

              I quite enjoyed reading that rather nuanced discussion :)

    Youtube is a platform, it cannot fuel anything.

    The social justice movement is what created the anti SJW movement.

    Youtube is simply the most prominent and accessible platform to express those views.

    The term SJW and anti-SJW is actually misleading. Both sides actually seek to rectify percieved social injustice.

    SJWs roughly speaking are left leaning and seek equality of outcome at the expense of freedom of expression.

    Anti-SJWs are generally frustrated at the political intolerance of the left and the inability of SJWs to self reflect on their logical inconsistency and inability to see their own capability for harm, despite their stated intent.

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