Theirtube is an open-source web service that provides a look into how videos are recommended on other people’s YouTube. Users can experience how the YouTube starting page would look for six different personas: Conspiracist, Climate Denier, Conservative, Liberal, Prepper, and Fruitarian.
On an average day, people around the world watch one billion hours of video on YouTube. 70% of these videos are recommended by an AI, making every YouTube experience unique. By offering a tool to understand what the other recommendation bubbles look like, TheirTube shows how YouTube’s recommendations can drastically shape someone’s experience on the platform and, as a result, shape their worldview.
Each of these TheirTube personas is informed by interviews with real YouTube users who experienced similar recommendation bubbles. Six YouTube accounts were created in order to simulate the interviewees’ experiences. These accounts subscribe to the channels that the interviewees followed and watches videos from these channels to reproduce a similar viewing history and a recommendation bubble. The code is open source meaning, anyone can make their own version of TheirTube.
Concept, design, development: Tomo Kihara
Character illustration: Polina Alexeenko
With support from Mozilla Foundation