The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is riding high once more! Box office reports are in, and Avengers: Infinity War is the new highest ever film for opening weekend box office. Hearty congrats to Marvel (and their parent company Disney) for their 10 years of success.
But a rather different item of news has caught our eye. Remember 2014’s critical and box office success Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Beware minor plot spoilers, for anyone who hasn’t seen the film.
In The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers (AKA Captain America) discovers that the Nazi group he fought and defeated during WW2 lives on. In fact, HYDRA has only grown since, covertly influencing world events towards chaos. This is achieved partly through dead HYDRA scientist Armin Zola’s ‘algorithm’.
“The twenty-first century is a digital book. Zola taught HYDRA how to read it. Your bank records, medical histories, voting patterns, e-mails, phone calls, your damn SAT scores… Zola’s Algorithm evaluates people’s past to predict the future.”
Well, HYDRA is not the only organisation with a secret program that influences the world. Former Youtube engineer Guillaume Chaslot has been talking about Youtube’s own mysterious recommendation algorithm. This is the code that controls what videos Youtube recommends, and its search results.
Chaslot was one of the engineers working on Youtube’s algorithm. Because he was trying to give the users more control over the algorithm, he was fired in 2013. Since 2016, Chaslot has been tracking Google’s recommendations. And what he found would make HYDRA proud.
Chaslot found that the algorithm often recommends conspiracy-theory, anti-science, or anti-media videos. He also found that the algorithm prefers videos that feature certain politicians that talk in aggressive, bullying ways.
You can see the results of his research yourself at AlgoTransparency.org.
Whether Youtube is actively trying to destabilise the world like HYDRA is unclear. But surely activists like Chaslot are needed. The companies who control the information age must be held accountable, for the way they shape the world narrative.
As for Infinity War, no spoilers please, we at Colour Surge Media haven’t seen the film yet!
Photo from https://www.flickr.com/photos/christiaancolen/20445410340 licenced under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)