Study reveals YouTube’s right-wing bias in Finnish election recommendations

Conducted by Faktabaari and CheckFirst, the report highlights a significant promotion of Finns Party-related videos, including those featuring the party’s leader, Jussi Halla-Aho.

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As European Parliamentarians and Commissioners convene in Strasbourg to deliberate two significant texts on AI, a recent study has shed light on YouTube’s recommendation algorithm trends. The study, conducted by the Finnish fact-checking service Faktabaari and Helsinki-based company CheckFirst as part of the CrossOver project, reveals a distinct bias favouring right-wing content, particularly from Finland’s Finns Party, in the lead-up to the 2024 elections.

The report exposes a significant promotion of Finns Party-related videos within YouTube’s ‘Up Next’ category, with one video featuring the party’s leader, Jussi Halla-Aho, dominating recommendations in a notable proportion of cases.

Despite YouTube’s assurances of prioritising authoritative content during elections and regulatory efforts such as the Digital Services Act (DSA) aimed at enhancing algorithmic transparency, Faktabaari and CheckFirst stressed the need for public access to platforms’ risk assessments to uphold accountability and combat potential manipulation of electoral processes.

Why does it matter?

Addressing the political bias on platforms like YouTube has become a pressing concern for the EU regulators, especially in light of the upcoming European Parliament elections in June. As nine European countries prepare to cast their votes, the need for fair and unbiased dissemination of information is essential. Such bias not only could undermine the integrity of democratic processes but also raise questions about the platform’s responsibility in shaping public discourse.