Avriel Epps-Darling

Do #BlackLivesMatter to YouTube?: Exploring YouTube Recommendation Pathways for Black Lives Matter Content After the Death of George Floyd

Social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have come out in support of Black Lives Matter and its mission since the death of George Floyd earlier this summer. But are their platforms supporting the movement for racial justice? In this talk, I will present preliminary findings of a content analysis of 845 videos collected from YouTube search queries of 55 keywords related to the BLM movement. The content that emerged from these queries reveals key racial and ideological disparities in YouTube’s search recommendations that may misalign with their recently published commitment to supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Subsequent analyses on 3 million “Up Next” recommendations resultant from these search results (i.e., their recommendation pipelines) provide additional insights into the ways in which racial justice-related content is promoted on the platform.

Avriel Epps-Darling is a Ph.D. candidate, Ford fellow, and Presidential Scholar at Harvard University. As a scholar, she has garnered numerous awards and honors including an invitation from the U.S. Department of Education to present her work for Congress in Washington D.C. and recognition as part of the top 10% of undergraduate social scientists in the world. Her previous research on algorithmic bias and music streaming compliments her foray into music making, where she took on the stage name King avriel. Her most recent musical project 'thesis' was released to critical acclaim, hailed as "prodigious" by the Huffington Post and featured in The New York Times, Vogue, Vice, and more. Today, her research, in partnership with organizations such as Spotify and Snap Inc, focuses on the intersection of algorithmic bias in content recommendation systems, and racial identity development.

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