Podcast Corner: Down the YouTube rabbit hole

Podcast Corner: Down the YouTube rabbit hole
PewDiePie  features in the Rabbit Hole podcast that delves into YouTube's algorithms.

If you've ever been on a YouTube binge, mindlessly watching video after video, and wondered where exactly the clip recommendations are coming from, then the Rabbit Hole is for you.

A podcast from the New York Times, presented by its tech columnist Kevin Roose, the seven episodes so far delve deep into YouTube's algorithm and literally tells us how someone in their teens/early 20s, can see their idealogy co-opted by 'fake news' and the alt-right.

It started for the directionless Caleb Cain whose five-year descent is told over the first three episodes that range in length between 20 and 40 minutes, with video game commentary videos on YouTube, soon gravitating to hours of Joe Rogan's podcast - it preaches free speech for all sides - and then, further on the dial, Stefan Molyneux and other questionable commentators. Along the way, Rabbit Hole explains internet stories such as Gamergate. By the end of Caleb's story, he's started his own leftist YouTube channel.

An interview with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki on episode four, about how the site has tried to push trusted souces and banned the likes of Alex Jones from its platform, is eye-opening.

She explains at the end of the chat: "My focus on responsibility is probably one of the most important things I'll do in my life because I think we live at this time of tremendous change and so yes, we've had all these years of fun and gaming and cat videos but there are really important decisions to be made about what this future will hold and what will platforms be and how they'll operate in the future - and those rules haven't been written yet. We're in the process of writing them."

The podcast also chronicles the many controversies of YouTuber PewDiePie, including how the 2018 Christchurch shooter namedropped one of his viral catchphrases during a livestream of one of his killings. And as Donald Trump continues to rage on Twitter, Rabbit Hole offers a primer on QAnon, a conspiracy theory that has gathered steam in a cohort in the generation ahead of Caleb Cain.

So as these new media platforms grapple with an evolving, shifting tide, and as facts and science are questioned, Rabbit Hole feels like the essential podcast of this time. It's gripping throughout - and we literally don't know where the internet will take it next.

More on this topic

5 of the best fitness podcasts to listen to right now5 of the best fitness podcasts to listen to right now

Joe Rogan’s podcast moving to SpotifyJoe Rogan’s podcast moving to Spotify

Dalo's GAA Show: Turning hurling's pretenders into contendersDalo's GAA Show: Turning hurling's pretenders into contenders

Dalo's GAA Podcast: A Championship will be needed as a celebration of lifeDalo's GAA Podcast: A Championship will be needed as a celebration of life


More in this Section

Niall Breslin talks about losing his uncle to coronavirusNiall Breslin talks about losing his uncle to coronavirus

Podcast corner: Three new podcasts from Irish women that you should listen toPodcast corner: Three new podcasts from Irish women that you should listen to

How to attend the Galway Film Fleadh from the comfort of your own couchHow to attend the Galway Film Fleadh from the comfort of your own couch

The best fiction books for the beach and beyond this summerThe best fiction books for the beach and beyond this summer


Latest Showbiz

The TV presenter said he wrote the first line when he was 14.Phillip Schofield says he has written ‘honest’ book about his life and career

The actress is the subject of a new documentary, Olympia.Olympia Dukakis: I hope sharing past drug use and suicidal thoughts helps others

More From The Irish Examiner