"how over is it?" Understanding the Incel Community on YouTube

Kostantinos Papadamou, Savvas Zannettou, Jeremy Blackburn, Emiliano De Cristofaro, Gianluca Stringhini, Michael Sirivianos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


YouTube is by far the largest host of user-generated video content worldwide. Alas, the platform has also come under fire for hosting inappropriate, toxic, and hateful content. One community that has often been linked to sharing and publishing hateful and misogynistic content are the Involuntary Celibates (Incels), a loosely defined movement ostensibly focusing on men's issues. In this paper, we set out to analyze the Incel community on YouTube by focusing on this community's evolution over the last decade and understanding whether YouTube's recommendation algorithm steers users towards Incel-related videos. We collect videos shared on Incel communities within Reddit and perform a data-driven characterization of the content posted on YouTube. Among other things, we find that the Incel community on YouTube is getting traction and that, during the last decade, the number of Incel-related videos and comments rose substantially. We also find that users have a 6.3% chance of being suggested an Incel-related video by YouTube's recommendation algorithm within five hops when starting from a non Incel-related video. Overall, our findings paint an alarming picture of online radicalization: not only Incel activity is increasing over time, but platforms may also play an active role in steering users towards such extreme content.
Original languageEnglish
Article number412
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW2
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Incels
  • involuntary celibates
  • manosphere
  • misogyny
  • reddit
  • YouTube recommendation algorithm


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