YouTube has historically been very secretive about the way its Trending tab works. While it has listed some factors that determine whether a video makes Trending, YouTube hasn’t revealed how much of a role humans play in this process.
Now YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has shed a little more light on how humans influence Trending and admitted that moderators will check the content to ensure it “makes sense” to be allowed to appear on the Trending tab.
Wojcicki made the comments during a recent interview with YouTuber Juanpa Zurita where she said:
“There are different ingredients that go into the Trending tab. The goal of the Trending tab was for people who don’t know YouTube really to be able to discover what is popular on YouTube. But then once our algorithms determine the content that’s there, we also have people look at it to review it.”
“So Trending has humans recommend it?” Zurita asked in response.
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Wojcicki replied: “We just do a human check to make sure that the content that’s there makes sense to be on the Trending page and available for everyone.”
While Wojcicki’s comments confirm that humans are involved in the process of reviewing whether a video gets on the Trending page, she didn’t delve into the criteria these people use to decide whether a video “makes sense” for Trending.
This is the latest of several developments that point to YouTube’s Trending tab being curated rather than a true representation of the most popular videos on the site.
YouTuber CGP Grey recently suggested that one of his most popular recent videos on American Indians was being suppressed from Trending. He came to this conclusion after one of his less popular videos made it to number three on Trending.
In October, YouTube also tweeted out that it wants at least half the videos on Trending to come from YouTubers – a tweet that suggests YouTube can decide when videos make Trending based on whether they were uploaded by a YouTuber.
Do you have any idea how dumb this sounds @SusanWojcicki ?
YouTube will not be the number 1 video site in the future.. You are going to have a mass exit to another site and everyone one of you that made these dumb calls will he fired for making the google stock crash! pic.twitter.com/gkQcUCCB8W
— KEEM 🍿 (@KEEMSTAR) October 19, 2019
And in May, a study revealed that 95% of the time, YouTube promotes legacy media outlets and not YouTubers in Trending. The study also found that YouTubers often need to get 10x more views than legacy media outlets to make Trending.