YouTube, once a digital harbour for miscellaneous cat-compilations and grainy videos of people falling over, has become a primary news source for a dizzying proportion of adults across the western world. According to the Pew Research Centre, around 26 per cent of adults in the US say they get their news from YouTube.
In the UK, Ofcom research suggests that number stands at 27 per ent for young people. But YouTube, along with Twitch (another ascendant streaming platform), aren’t like other media services. Obsessive viewing and radicalisation are baked into the system, which serves up addictive, continuous content through its cutting-edge algorithms. When one three-hour long video ends, another similar one is recommended – and on and on for hours and hours of the listener’s day.
During the mid 2010s, YouTube’s lax terms of service left it ripe for alt-right commentators, who’d take to its airwaves, speaking for hours to disaffected young people, permitted to say almost anything on their official channel without fear of being "departnered".
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