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How YouTube sent one man down an alt-right rabbit hole

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YouTube has been criticized often in recent weeks for hosting content created by radical actors, and has also been censured for how it has handled this criticism.

The video sharing giant’s policies on harassment and hate speech and its enforcement of these policies faced public scrutiny last week after Vox journalist and YouTube host Carlos Maza expressed his frustration with ongoing personal attacks he has faced from popular fellow YouTuber Steven Crowder.

After viewing the supercut of a few of Crowder’s comments, many — including Vox’s editor-in-chief Lauren Williams and its head of video Joe Posner — questioned why YouTube allowed Crowder’s videos to remain on its site, noting that the streaming service’s rules explicitly state videos that are “deliberately posted in order to humiliate someone” are not allowed. The platform’s community guidelines also state that users cannot make “hurtful and negative personal comments/videos about another person.”

YouTube officials responded to these questions with a series of decisions, as was explained in Recode Daily:

First, on Tuesday, the company said a series of videos in which the conservative media figure Steven Crowder calls Maza homophobic slurs didn’t violate its policies. Then, under public pressure, YouTube said on Wednesday it would temporarily demonetize Crowder’s channel. That didn’t resolve tensions either, as The Verge’s Elizabeth Lopatto writes: “YouTube’s policies have satisfied no one in this very public debacle.” By Wednesday night, the company published a blog post explaining its reasoning for keeping up the videos but promised to take a “hard look at our harassment policies with an aim to update them.”

A number of Google (which owns YouTube) employees spoke anonymously with The Verge’s Megan Farokhmanesh, and said the company’s handling of the issues Maza raised reflect how the company has dealt with the concerns of marginalized communities internally and externally.

“Internal outreach to executives has not been effective in years,” one employee said. “They ignore us completely unless there is extreme unrest. We can’t trust them anymore to listen in good faith.”

Another described YouTube’s decision to leave up Crowder’s videos as “the latest in a long series of really, really shitty behavior and double-talking on the part of my employer as pertains to anything to do with queer shit.”

Crowder and creators of similar content draw a large audience to YouTube, and that audience brings in money through advertising. Kevin Roose, a reporter for the New York Times, sought to understand how creators like Crowder win fans, and over the course of his reporting, found that YouTube may help to radicalize viewers through its algorithms.

Roose followed one man — Caleb Cain, now 26 — who, as he put it, “fell down the alt-right rabbit hole” and became a viewer of videos like Crowder’s.

Cain discovered the alt-right movement on YouTube while seeking community after dropping out of college; he shared a download of his YouTube history (comprised of more than 12,000 videos and 2,500 searches) with Roose that illustrated how he became steeped in far-right ideology.

Cain began watching self-help videos in 2014. At that time, he identified as a liberal, and stumbled upon the work of Stefan Molyneux; in addition to producing videos containing life advice, Molyneux also creates videos with social and political commentary, arguing for increased men’s rights and a return to the sort of gender politics that were common in previous centuries.

“He was willing to address young men’s issues directly, in a way I’d never heard before,” Cain told Roose.

As he watched more of Molyneux’s pieces, YouTube began recommending other conservative and alt-right content, which Cain watched as well. Over time, he came to internalize, identify with, and believe in the points of view expressed in both traditionally conservative and more radical videos.

“When I found this stuff, I felt like I was chasing uncomfortable truths,” Cain said. “I felt like it was giving me power and respect and authority.”

Roose writes that experts he spoke with believe YouTube’s profit model and the algorithm responsible for serving Cain and others like him video after related video can inadvertently lead to radicalization: “Critics and independent researchers say YouTube has inadvertently created a dangerous on-ramp to extremism by combining two things: a business model that rewards provocative videos with exposure to advertising dollars, and an algorithm that guides users down personalized paths meant to keep them glued to their screens.”

According to Roose, videos suggested by that algorithm drive more than 70 percent of users’ time on YouTube. And it is getting better at recommending the sorts of videos that keep users watching until the end.

YouTube reportedly updated its algorithm in 2012 to promote videos viewers actually finished watching; that led to a surge in engagement, as did a 2015 change that incorporated artificial intelligence into the algorithm’s video recommendation process. In 2017, that artificial intelligence was further refined, and it learned to pull videos tangentially related to what users already liked in order to both expand their horizons and keep them watching longer.

Roose notes YouTube denies their algorithm has led users to more radical videos, but changes to it may have led Cain to a new type of video: a genre of work that employs the rhetoric and style seen in the types of alt-right content Cain had come to enjoy, but that promotes ideas of the left.

Cain found himself drawn to one creator in particular: Natalie Wynn.

“I just kept watching more and more of that content, sympathizing and empathizing with her and also seeing that, wow, she really knows what she’s talking about,” Cain told Roose.

Eventually, he was so moved by the videos of Wynn and other YouTubers like her that he rejected the alt-right philosophies he had embraced for years, and became a content creator himself, posting liberal videos of his own in the mode of the platform’s most popular alt-right figures.

Despite the rise of figures like Wynn and Cain on the platform, criticism of YouTube being used to host incendiary content remains. And the employees Farokhmanesh spoke with were not overly optimistic that things will change soon.

Senior software engineer Irene Knapp told Farokhmanesh: “The company takes half-measures, and pats itself on the back for those half-measures,” and said the problems Maza has faced “will absolutely happen again … That’s just how it goes.”

The reason alt-right figures like those Cain was for years a fan of will remain on the platform is fear, another Google employee told Farokhmanesh.

“Google and YouTube don’t want to take any action against any far-right channel for fear of stoking the far right to say they’re being persecuted,” the employee said. “But that strategy doesn’t pan out. They will never stop saying they’re persecuted.”

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DoorDash finally released more details about its new tipping policy

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A month after food delivery app DoorDash said it would change its controversial tipping policy, the company released more details about the planned changes — but there are still a lot of unanswered questions.

In a company blog post on Thursday, DoorDash CEO Tony Xu gave a timeline and more details about when and how the company will change its pay model to stop effectively pocketing workers’ tips.

The announcement comes a few days after Recode first reported that the company had continued to pocket drivers’ tips despite promising drivers nearly a month ago that it would share more details on changes “in the coming days.”

In the post Thursday, Xu defended DoorDash’s original tipping policy — saying that in many cases the company boosted drivers’ pay when customers gave little or no tip. But the CEO also acknowledged that DoorDash’s model had “the unintended effect of making some customers feel like their tips didn’t matter.”

Many drivers have voiced outrage over the tipping policy, which is still in place for most workers.

“They’re still stealing tips,” DoorDash delivery person Dawnielle Turner recently told Recode. “I don’t think [the company] understands how many people rely on this as a primary source of income.”

As part of its new pay model, DoorDash said it will increase minimum base pay (from $1 to $2) and will offer more performance-based bonus options to its drivers.

There are still unanswered questions about what DoorDash’s pay policy changes will mean for workers. DoorDash did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Here’s what we don’t know yet:

  • How exactly the pay model will change. The company says that its new pay model will result in higher average earnings for drivers, and that it will use a third party to verify that. That’s a good first step toward greater pay transparency, according to Sage Wilson, an organizer for labor advocacy group Working Washington.

But DoorDash still won’t give its drivers a breakdown with a tip amount for how much they will make for each delivery when they first accept an offer. Only once a job is done will drivers see how much they’ve been tipped. That means that drivers have to trust that the company isn’t factoring in a customer’s tip when it quotes them on base pay. To help clear this up, drivers have called for the company to disclose exactly how much it pays workers for distance travelled and time spent making deliveries. Competing delivery apps like Postmates and UberEats do this already, according to Wilson.

  • The date when these changes will become effective. The company said it will roll out the pay changes to all drivers next month, and it already starting to test the new model — but there’s still no exact date when it will be official. Considering the company has been slow to make changes at the same time that it has closed major acquisition deals and a new round of funding, workers have expressed frustration over the company’s opaque timelines when it comes to worker pay.
  • If it will provide back pay to its drivers. Many drivers have argued that they’re owed for the tips that DoorDash might have directed toward base pay in the past. When Instacart made similar changes to its tipping policy earlier this year, it retroactively compensated workers.

Overall, DoorDash’s announcement represents a win for drivers, labor advocates, and customers who have continued to pressure the company to change its pay practices. But it’s too early to say for sure if these changes will end up universally helping drivers.

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Digital Trends Live – 7.10.19 – Nintendo Switch Lite Confirmed + India May Ban Cryptocurrencies

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On today’s episode: Nintendo officially announced the much rumored Switch Lite; WarnerMedia makes HBO Max official, launching with Friends in 2020; India to ban cryptocurrencies – could impact Facebook’s Libra; team sets out to topple the land speed record; Overtock.com President joins to talk about their new A.R. feature; The best CPUs and GPUs on the market; Passwords vulnerability discussion with Keeper Security CEO; If you make a ton of PPT decks, you likely need a CMS – Shufflrr has you covered; Gaming Editor Felicia Miranda takes the cover off the Switch Lite and the best Prime Day deals to watch out for.

View at DailyMotion

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25 Users Showed How Different Instagram Is From Reality, and It Can Make You Way More Confident

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According to the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), Instagram is the most harmful social media for psychological health. Every day, we are disappointed when we start comparing our lives to the photos online without even thinking about how these perfect pictures were created. Fortunately, there are users who are ready to reveal what their lives look like without photoshop and filters.

Bright Side is happy to show the photos that will not only give you confidence, but will also improve your mood.

Before and after taken about 30 seconds apart

Nobody looks good in the morning.

Everything depends on the angle.

Trash looks bad no matter where it is.

“I love taking photos on the beach.”

It’s not just bodies and faces that get tune-ups on Instagram. The locals would be amazed to see the photo on the left.

Each successful photo actually means there were hundreds of failed attempts.

The photos I share vs The photos I’m tagged in

A black eye given by a unicorn

It appears that the rainbow is fake.

This is what’s behind a perfect life.

It’s always like this.

If people posted their real photos from the gym

10 minutes after cleaning and 10 hours later

Mud baths are attractive.

Behind the stage of perfect photo

Just imagine what the process looked like.

On hot days, you really need water-resistant makeup.

Before the party / after the party

When you are too hungry to arrange the food in a beautiful way:

This is the same girl.

There is something wrong with this photo.

Some people look like aliens in their photos.

It should be prohibited to tag people in photos.

Instagram vs Real-life motherhood

Do you prefer to post real or idealized photos?

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