The Weekly | What Is YouTube Pushing You to Watch Next?


Producers/Directors Gemma Jordan and Alyse Shorland

A wave of vocal, right-wing provocateurs has been elected to public office in Brazil in recent years, riding a surge of enthusiasm from their loyal YouTube viewers. Watched more than almost any TV network in Brazil, the nearly ubiquitous social video platform even helped catapult a little-known populist named Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency.

Our correspondents Max Fisher and Amanda Taub found that in a country driven to the edge by economic and political crises, YouTube’s algorithms may have played a decisive role in Bolsonaro’s rise. The site’s recommendation feature boosts fringe videos into the mainstream and can unwittingly help spread conspiracies and misinformation about dangerous diseases, jeopardizing public health.

Max and Amanda go to Brazil to meet the YouTube stars-turned-politicians and speak to the targets of their divisive and often inflammatory online attacks.

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