Estimating the Ideology of Political YouTube Videos

25 Pages Posted: 17 May 2022

See all articles by Angela Lai

Angela Lai

New York University (NYU)

Megan A. Brown

Center for Social Media and Politics - NYU

James Bisbee

New York University (NYU) - Department of Politics

Richard Bonneau

New York University (NYU) - New York University

Joshua A. Tucker

New York University (NYU)

Jonathan Nagler

NYU - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Date Written: May 2, 2022

Abstract

We present a method for estimating the ideology of political YouTube videos. As online media increasingly influences how people engage with politics, so does the importance of quantifying the ideology of such media for research. The subfield of estimating ideology as a latent variable has often focused on traditional actors such as legislators, while more recent work has used social media data to estimate the ideology of ordinary users, political elites, and media sources. We build on this work by developing a method to estimate the ideologies of YouTube videos, an important subset of media, based on their accompanying text metadata. First, we take Reddit posts linking to YouTube videos and use correspondence analysis to place those videos in an ideological space. We then train a text-based model with those estimated ideologies as training labels, enabling us to estimate the ideologies of videos not posted on Reddit. These predicted ideologies are then validated against human labels. Finally, we demonstrate the utility of this method by applying it to the watch histories of survey respondents with self-identified ideologies to evaluate the prevalence of echo chambers on YouTube. Our approach gives video-level scores based only on supplied text metadata, is scalable, and can be easily adjusted to account for changes in the ideological climate. This method could also be generalized to estimate the ideology of other items referenced or posted on Reddit.

Keywords: Ideology estimation, YouTube, Latent variable

Suggested Citation

Lai, Angela and Brown, Megan and Bisbee, James and Bonneau, Richard and Tucker, Joshua Aaron and Nagler, Jonathan, Estimating the Ideology of Political YouTube Videos (May 2, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4088828 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4088828

Angela Lai (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Megan Brown

Center for Social Media and Politics - NYU ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

James Bisbee

New York University (NYU) - Department of Politics ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Richard Bonneau

New York University (NYU) - New York University ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Joshua Aaron Tucker

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Jonathan Nagler

NYU - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

Dept of Politics - 2nd floor
19 W. 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

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