This week, we got to see the first-ever picture of a black hole and we all went nuts! Katie Bouman is the one who led the team that developed the algorithm that made the photo possible. She’s a 29-year-old MIT graduate student. She’s the face of this scientific achievement.
All went well, until someone decided to make a sexist video, in which Bouman was attacked. This was the top result for her name on YouTube. This means that the YouTube’s search algorithm has managed to find a video that promoted Reddit’s idea that Bouman does not deserve as much credit as her male co-workers, and then it made it the most relevant result for her name.
How did this happen?
The video platform from Google never showed how its search algorithm does its work and rank the content. However, this video doesn’t have many views, or thumbs up reactions, or subscribers to the channel. But for some reason, it ranks higher in the search result page. Screenshots appeared fast on the internet, and Mashable was able to recreate the results of the search page.
A few hours after this, YouTube’s search results page for the name of the researcher was updated, in order to give it a “top news” label. With this, the sexist conspiracy video was removed from the results page. It was then replaced with relevant videos from other sources that are trusted, such as Bloomberg or Washington Post and Mashable.
YouTube has explained on Twitter that its algorithms will trigger to show more authoritative sources. They also said that, in this case, in only minutes after, videos from news sources have made their appearance on the top. Apparently, it’s all part of the changes they have made to their algorithm, in order to avoid misinformation.
Meagan Kozlovs is a reporter for Debate Report. She’s worked and interned at Global News Toronto and CHECX. Megan is based in Toronto and covers issues affecting her city. In addition to her severe milk shake addiction, she’s a Netflix enthusiast, a red wine drinker, and a voracious reader.