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The debate has grown in recent years over the role that social media algorithms play in spreading conspiracy theories and extreme political content online. YouTube’s recommender algorithm has come under particularly severe scrutiny. A number of exposés have detailed how it can take viewers down a radicalization rabbit hole. While YouTube has certainly extended the reach of conspiracy theorists, it’s difficult to assess the objective role of algorithms in these radicalization processes. But my own research has observed the way certain radical communities that congregate at the fringes of the web have managed to essentially manufacture conspiracy theories. These have, in turn, trended on social media. Full story

10 April