Manipulating the YouTube Algorithm - (Part 1/3) Smarter Every Day 213 | Summary and Q&A

March 31, 2019
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Manipulating the YouTube Algorithm - (Part 1/3) Smarter Every Day 213


The YouTube algorithm is being manipulated through artificially created videos that aim to deceive and generate ad revenue or manipulate public opinion.

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Key Insights

  • 💓 Manipulators are finding ways to beat YouTube's automated detection systems by altering videos' content, graphics, and audio to create different hashes.
  • ❓ The manipulation of YouTube algorithms reflects the flaws in human nature and our susceptibility to sensationalist content.
  • 🌍 Real-world efforts, such as promoting political grace and building real communities, are necessary to counteract the effects of online manipulation.
  • 👻 The rapid expansion of technology has allowed for the creation of massive amounts of content that can be easily manipulated and distributed.
  • 💁 Social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are primary battlegrounds for manipulative content and the spread of false information.
  • 🕵️ Detecting and countering manipulative content is a challenging task for engineers, as they need to balance speed and accuracy in identifying and removing deceptive videos.
  • 🎓 Education and awareness about the manipulation of algorithms and the motivations behind it are crucial in mitigating the impact of this activity.


  • A couple of months ago I made a Twitter thread about some weird activity I saw online, and after I posted that thread tons of engineers from many different tech companies reached out to me privately to tell me their stories. My interest in all this started one day when I was scrolling on YouTube, and the algorithm served up a pretty weird video f... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How do manipulators trick the YouTube algorithm?

Manipulators create videos with misleading titles and generic content that is automatically generated using services like Wochit. They use artificial engagement with compromised accounts to give their videos an initial boost.

Q: How do these manipulative videos go undetected?

The manipulative videos often appear legitimate and have real people engaging with them, making it difficult for automated systems to detect them. The use of fake logins and compromised accounts also adds to the complexity.

Q: Are the manipulative videos financially motivated or ideological?

There are both financially motivated videos aimed at extracting ad revenue and ideological videos meant to sway public opinion and incite division.

Q: How do manipulators use artificial engagement?

Manipulators purchase fake likes, views, and followers to artificially increase engagement on their videos. They may also use click farms, which involve multiple devices simulating human interaction.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The content creator discovers strange videos on YouTube with misleading titles and generic fake news channels with high engagement levels.

  • The videos are created using technology, such as Wochit, that automatically generates videos based on scripts and metadata.

  • There are two types of attacks on the YouTube algorithm: financially motivated videos for ad revenue and ideological videos aimed at influencing public opinion.

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