We’ve all seen social media posts from our climate change-denying cousin or ultra-liberal college friend, and have wondered how they came to certain conclusions. Mozilla’s new project, “TheirTube,” created by Amsterdam-based designer Tomo Kihara, is offering a glance at theoretical YouTube homepages for users in six different categories. Those personas include: fruitarian, doomsday prepper, liberal, conservative, conspiracist and climate denier. Through these different personas, Mozilla hopes to demonstrate how YouTube’s recommendation algorithm could confirm certain biases.
The six personas were created after Kihara conducted interviews with real YouTube users who experienced similar recommendation bubbles. An account was created for each persona which was then subscribed to channels that the interviewees followed. The six example homepages show what the YouTube recommendation algorithm recommends any given persona each day. Thus, the fruitarian account sees videos like “What’s really inside your vitamins and supplements” and “No more mucus! Free yourself!” while the conspiracist is recommended videos like “COVID 911 - INSURGENCY - WAKEUP CALL” and “Loch Ness Monster sightings.”