Lentis/The Social Psychology of YouTube

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Internet video is a powerful medium. YouTube’s video hosting services has been deemed influential, from popularizing Internet trends of many cultures, to distributed socially valuable video messages. YouTube is becoming more important then ever. Over 800 million unique users visit YouTube each month with over 4 billion hours of video being watched each month.[2] The social group of YouTube advocates, known as ‘YouTubers’ represents these users across the world.

YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe.[1]

Worldwide Forum of Social Media[edit | edit source]

YouTube is becoming the worldwide forum for information. Exposing various cultures, news, politics, and users alike. Social interaction within social media outlets is becoming the norm. With YouTube being a global archive there are many inclusions of substance and content being at odds. Users do have the ability to post controversial material, although YouTube does have the right to it take down if deemed necessary. YouTube does not promote these negative videos, but society does. Through YouTube’s viewing count and video subscribing options we see that any video has the possibility of ranking up to become popular. As more users watch and link to other social media outlets, a video can easily become a viral. These viral hits cause great attention and criticism from the mass media and the public. The Invisible Children Movement that the Kony 2012 campaign video was meant to promote led to a backlash against the maker. [3] Though, with criticism, there also comes support. With over 90 million views from users across the world, Invisible Children’s awareness led to triple profit. [4] The video resonated with people worldwide. With so much exposure, it has led society to question the actual intent of the organization. Many users asked "Where did the money actually end up?"

The truth about Invisible Children is that we are not an aid organization, and we don't intend to be. I think people think we're over there delivering shoes or food. But we are an advocacy and awareness organization. [5]

—Jedidiah Jenkins, Invisible Children's director of ideology

What started out as a campaign video on YouTube gained the awareness of Kony and Invisible Children non-profit orangization.

Search and Discovery[edit | edit source]

According to a Pew Research Center study, 70% of YouTube's traffic is foreign as YouTube is available in over 48 countries and languages[6]. Changing the language settings of YouTube only changes its interface. This indicates that with search and discovery YouTube use, most foreign videos are phased out unless they include English search-indexed key terms. Despite acting as a worldwide forum of content to multiple cultures, there are language barriers that separate viewership of content to a specific language-sharing audience.

Piracy and YouTube[edit | edit source]

A critical social group pertaining to YouTube is pirates. With the ability to share videos, people have uploaded numerous clips, including those that violate copyright laws. YouTube has been the center of controversies involving record, movie, and television companies. YouTube has been sued by Viacom for copyright infringement.[7] Social behavior and perceptions on piracy has influenced steps taken by companies to address this issue.

Public Perception on Piracy[edit | edit source]

In 2008, 22.9 percent of YouTube videos are identified by each respective submitter as "music".[8] It is relevant to analyze piracy of digital music because most YouTube videos are in the "music" category. A survey by Bonner and O'Higgins found that people who illegally download music and view it as immoral chose answers that do not reflect this belief.[9] This contradiction can be explained by cognitive dissonance. People will try to justify their "wrong" behavior or morally disengage. They found that the more people listen to music, the more likely they are to illegally download music.

Wingrove, Korpas, and Weisz found that deterrence, personal morality, and obligation has more influence on stealing CD's than sharing and downloading music.[10] This is because downloading music pose no risk in bodily harm, music is just duplicated and not "stolen", less risk in getting caught, and is supported by some communities of the internet.

YouTube mp3 Controversy[edit | edit source]

YouTube mp3 is a service website that converts audio from YouTube videos into an mp3 file that the user can download.[11] On June 8, 2012 YouTube sent a letter to the creator of YouTube mp3, Philip Matesanz, informing him to discontinue his service.[12] YouTube believed Matesanz violated the YouTube Term Service, which prohibits downloading videos that do not have a "download" link. YouTube has also blocked his service. Matesanz formed an online petition to allow recordings of YouTube to be legalized.[13] He argued that recording YouTube is synonymous to recording public broadcast, which is legal. His petition has reached almost four million signatures.

This example shows that some approve downloading YouTube videos for personal use. Matesanz does not approve to distributing the mp3 files and infringing copyright, as mentioned in YouTube mp3 terms of service.[14] This act is seen as an act of piracy by some. This shows another type of "pirates" in play, i.e. those who do not believe their actions are wrong.

Corporate Response[edit | edit source]

Corporations have tackled the piracy issue based on social behavior and perception on piracy. YouTube makes violators watch "YouTube Copyright School" and take a quiz afterwards.[15] Users with repeated offense will have their account suspended. YouTube's first attempts to educate violators so they understand enough about copyright. This attempts to remove accidental violators. Only after repeated offense will YouTube punish offenders.

NBC and CBS have taken another approach. They formed a deal with YouTube, where they would supply YouTube with promotional clips of their programs.[16] In addition, CBS has the choice to take down infringing videos or run an ad for those videos. CBS would take a cut of the revenue. The National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) also has a similar deal with YouTube.[17]

Vevo, which is a joint venture by Universal Music Group, Sony Music Group, and Abu Dhabi Media Company, along with EMI Music licensing their content to Vevo.[18][19] Vevo provides music videos, celebrity interviews, and behind-the-scenes to various websites, including YouTube.

All of these solution consider the social perception and behavior on YouTube. Because infringing videos were more easily accessible than original videos, corporations attempt to make original videos as easily accessible. Traditional solutions would not be as effective. Taking down videos is a poor strategy, because people will upload infringing videos, despite their morality. Enforcing copyright laws is not effective. Deterrence and obligation to obey the law did not influence illegally downloading music as much. Social behavior and perception changed how businesses profit.

Bulletin Board for YouTubers[edit | edit source]

YouTube is a bulletin board of socially valuable video messages - i.e weight loss initiative and free hugs campaign, as well as a outlet for socially negative videos - i.e The Stephen "freak-out" videos and cyber bullying. Social interaction is good and bad in that it allows users to communicate in a more convenient manner, but it can also detract from physical interaction outside. YouTube's structure of user-generated content has allowed for many avenues to be available for viewers.

Education[edit | edit source]

YouTube is home to a number of student projects, instructional videos and professional development clips. In addition to user-posted material, the site has partnerships with several colleges and universities, from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Southern California system to Vanderbilt and Northwestern universities, which operate channels with full-length lectures and interactive Web sites for the schools. [20] YouTube EDU brings learners and educators together in a global video classroom. On YouTube EDU, you have access to a broad set of educational videos that range from academic lectures to inspirational speeches and everything in between. [21]

Politics and YouTube[edit | edit source]

Politicians whose success in campaigning is dependent on public awareness would love to cater to YouTube's large audience.[22] And, Google, particularly has a published starter kit to manage a campaign offering essential tasks pertaining to YouTube[23]. This includes arranging targeted ads geographically and demographically, which is particularly useful for focusing on battleground states in elections, and communication directly with voters. Personalized videos can be made that help voters feel relevant and help organize support

However, mismanagement of this new interface of social psychology can lead to political ruin. For example, in 2006 former Republican senator George Allen was caught on video saying a controversial remark and this video was uploaded to YouTube and became a viral hit. After leading the polls, he lost by a thin margin largely due to the bad press related to the video. The effect of the video cascaded to influence the loss of control of the Senate to the Democrats.[24] This vivid example demonstrates how popular personalities and politicians now an archive of accountability for any claims they make as YouTube provides indisputable video evidence.

YouTube’s Ranking System[edit | edit source]

Individuals gain popularity and recognition through YouTube's current rankings:

  • Spotlight Videos
  • Most Discussed
  • Most Viewed
  • Top Favorited
  • Popular
  • Most Responded
  • Top Rated

Users are also encouraged to subscribe to their peers YouTube channel, with Youtube dividing each channel into the following maincategories: Music, Comedy, Film & Entertainment, Gaming, Beauty & Fashion, From TV, Automotive, Animation, Sports, How-to & DIY, Top Blogs, Tech, Science & Education, Cooking & Health, Top YouTube Collections, Causes & Non-profits, News & Politics, Lifestyle, New & Noteworthy, and Best of YouTube. [25]

Related Videos and their Effect[edit | edit source]

Steering away from the previous formula of multimedia experience with fixed length movie or television features. YouTube encourages users to engage in an interactive watching experience of viewing short related clips. These related videos are selected is based on automatic factors a user has no control over[26]. The algorithm behind the recommendation videos page puts particular emphasis on previous user activity, and the most recent update to YouTube saves cookie information and personalizes the tab according to viewing history whether or not you have an account.[27] YouTube accumulates data on how users use its features to allow content providers to strategically plan to increase their videos’ popularity and advertise effectively.[28]

As related video recommendations are the main source of views for the majority of the views on YouTube. There is strong correlation between the view count and the average view count of the top referrer video. [29]This makes videos with higher view counts get priority and viral videos gain momentum helping YouTube maintain its popularity. Gangnam style, the current all-time most watched video that was published in July 15, 2012 and has reached over 860,000,000 million views in an unprecedented scale of under 133 days.[30]

YouTube Celebrities[edit | edit source]

With a plethora of video content, YouTube has created many worldwide phenomena. These Internet sensations take advantage of YouTube’s “Most Viewed” ranking system, allowing your average YouTuber to become a star overnight. Many stars that careers first started on YouTube include: Justin Beiber, Rebecca Black, and Psy. These celebrities are endorsed by corporate sponsors, who pay for product placement in their clips or production of online ads. YouTube has even expanded its partnership program to users that generate over thousands of views on their channel. [31] These users are required to regularly upload original content.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Social factors do indeed affect what people tend to view on YouTube. With YouTube's ranking system and corporate inclusion, we see YouTubers of all backgrounds. The idea of a user-generated content has expanded societies way of socializing. Its vast library of content has forever changed the way we communicate and learn. We now live in a society where many can't imagine life without YouTube.

It's accessible and interactive … a very human way of connecting to others. [32]

—Loree Goffigon, a principal at global design company Gensle

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ YouTube (2012) About. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/t/about_youtube
  2. ^ YouTube (2012) Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/t/press_statistics
  3. ^ L.A. NOW (October 8 2012) 'Kony 2012' makers launch new video aimed at African warlord. Retrieved from http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/10/kony-2012-video-african-warlord.html
  4. ^ theguardian (March 8 2012) Child abductee featured in Kony 2012 defends film's maker against criticism. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/08/jacob-acaye-child-kony-2012?intcmp=122
  5. ^ GOOD magazine (March 8 2012) 'There's a Rabid Hunger to Criticize': A 'Kony 2012' Creator Defends the Film. Retrieved from http://www.good.is/posts/a-kony-2012-creator-defends-the-film/
  6. ^ Journalism.org (July 16, 2012) YouTube & News. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/analysis_report/youtube_news
  7. ^ La Monica, P. R. (2007). Viacom sues ‘GooTube’ for $1 billion. CNNMoney. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2007/03/13/news/companies/youtube_viacom_reaction/index.htm
  8. ^ Cheng, X., Dale, C., & Liu, J (2008). Statistics and social network of YouTube Videos. 16th International Workshop on Quality of Service 229-238. doi: 10.1109/IWQOS.2008.32
  9. ^ Bonner, S. & O’Higgins, E. (2010). Music piracy: ethical perspectives. Management Decision 48(9) 1341-1354. doi: 10.1108/00251741011082099
  10. ^ Wingrove, T., Korpas, A. L., & Weisz, V. (2011). Why were millions of people not obeying the law? motivational influences on non-compliance with the law in the case of music piracy. Psychology, Crime & Law 17(3) 261-276. doi: 10.1080/10683160903179526
  11. ^ Matesanz, P. (n. d.). What is YouTube mp3. https://www.mp3converter.net/
  12. ^ Matesanz, P. (2012). Situation update. Retrieved from https://www.mp3converter.net/situation-update
  13. ^ Matesanz, P. (n. d.). @Youtube & @GoogleDE : Allow third party recording tools for YouTube. Retrieved from http://www.change.org/petitions/youtube-googlede-allow-third-party-recording-tools-for-youtube-freedomonyoutube
  14. ^ Matesanz, P. (n. d.). Terms of Use. Retrieved from https://www.mp3converter.net/impress
  15. ^ Bilton, N. (2011). YouTube sentences copyright offenders to school. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/youtube-sentences-copyright-offenders-to-school/
  16. ^ Donohue, S. (2006). CBS partners with YouTube. Multichannel. retrieved from http://www.multichannel.com/internet-video/cbs-partners-youtube/130037
  17. ^ Los Angeles Times (2011).YouTube inks licensing deal with music publishers, ending lawsuit. Los Angeles Times. retrieved from http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2011/08/youtube-signs-licenses-with-music-publishers-settling-lawsuit.html
  18. ^ Shelter, B. (2009) Music industry companies opening video site. The New York Times. retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/business/media/08vevo.html?_r=0
  19. ^ Van Buskirk, E. (2009) EMI licenses content to Vevo in 11th-hour deal. Wired. retrieved from http://www.wired.com/business/2009/12/emi-licenses-content-to-vevo-in-eleventh-hour-deal/
  20. ^ Center For Digital Education (n. d.). Is Education Ready For YouTube? Retrieved from http://www.centerdigitaled.com/edtech/Is-Education-Ready-For-YouTube.html
  21. ^ YouTube EDU (n. d.) YouTube Education. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/t/education
  22. ^ Guerorguieva, V. (2008). Voters, Mypace, and Youtube: the impact of alternate communication channels on the 2006 election cycle and beyond. Social Science Computer Review 26 (2008): 288-293.
  23. ^ Google (n. d.) Google Political Toolkit. Retrieved from http://support.google.com/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=92651
  24. ^ Guerorguieva, V. (2008). Voters, Mypace, and Youtube: the impact of alternate communication channels on the 2006 election cycle and beyond. Social Science Computer Review 26 (2008): 288-293.
  25. ^ YouTube (2012). Channels Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/channels
  26. ^ YouTube (October 16, 2012). Controlling 'Related Videos'. Retrieved from http://support.google.com/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=92651
  27. ^ Davidson, J., Liebald, B., Liu, J., Nandy, P., & Vleet, T. (2010) The YouTube video recommendation system. ACM. Proceedings of the fourth ACM conference on Recommender systems. Barcelona, SP: ACM.
  28. ^ Figueiredo, F., Benevenuto, F., & Almeida, J. (Ed.) (2011) The Tube over time: characterizing popularity growth of YouTube videos. ACM. Proceedings of the fourth ACM international conference on Web search and data mining. Belo Horizonte, BR: ACM.
  29. ^ Zhou, R., Khemmarat, S., & Gao, Lixin. (2010). The impact of YouTube system on video views. IMC '10. Proceedings of the 10th ACM SIGCOMM conference on Internet measurement. Melbourne, AU: ACM.
  30. ^ Allocca, K. PSY passes Bieber; Gangnam Style new most-viewed video of all time. Retrieved from http://www.youtube-trends.blogspot.com/2012/11/
  31. ^ New Media Rockstars (April 17 2012) YouTube expands partnership program. Retrieved from http://newmediarockstars.com/2012/04/youtube-expands-partnership-program/
  32. ^ Forbes (October 17 2007) YouTube Goes Corporate. Retrieved from http://archive.is/20130629080803/http://www.forbes.com/2007/10/16/youtube-video-work-tech-cx_ew_1017youtube.html