Study Shows How the 'Intellectual Dark Web' Is a Gateway to the Far Right - 2019-08-28
When we talk about the far right, it's generally agreed upon that its (mostly white, mostly male) members aren't born, but made, usually following an intense process of radicalization. But the radicalization process is akin to that of a frog being dropped in a pot of lukewarm water: The temperature has to be slowly turned up over the course of an extended period of time, degree by degree, until the frog becomes so accustomed to its surroundings that it doesn't even realize it's being boiled alive.
A new study from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) in Brazil sheds some light on this phenomenon. The study analyzed more than 331,000 videos from what the study authors categorize as a broad, right-wing spectrum to paint a portrait of exactly how viewers become acclimated to increasingly far-right views — and the central role that YouTube's algorithm, which recommends related videos for its users, plays in the radicalization process.
"Other researchers, NGOs, and the media have indicated or hypothesized that this radicalization process [has] occurred" for those on the far right, Manoel Ribeiro, the lead author for the study and a PhD candidate at EPFL in Switzerland, tells Rolling Stone. "What drove us to do this project was that we wanted to be able to quantitatively assess, to find if this process really existed, and if it was significant. In a way, we wanted to come up with a methodology that ended this discussion for good."