In recent months, YouTube caused an uproar in the online community when it announced that it would remove the ability to see how many dislikes a video had.
This announcement was met with plenty of mixed reactions from users, who argued that the dislike button was necessary for gauging public opinion on a video.
However, others argue that removing dislikes protects content creators from being bullied and harassed.
Despite the outcry, YouTube has not backed down. So why did YouTube remove dislikes in the first place?
Moreover, what are the implications of this decision for the future of YouTube as a platform? Let’s find out.
Why Did YouTube Remove Dislikes?
As a part of their efforts to make their website more inclusive, the company announced that they would be removing the dislike button from videos and other features that could be used to bully or harass content creators.
YouTube experimented on the dislike button before the announcement to see whether they could better protect content producers from harassment and prevent dislike attacks, in which users try to increase the number of dislikes on a creator’s videos.
The study reported that users were less likely to target a video’s dislike button to push up the count because the count was not visible to them. The experiment’s results revealed a decrease in dislike-attacking behavior.
1. To Protect Users From “Dislike Bombing”
The company stated that this change is being made to protect users from “dislike bombing” – when a group of people conspires to downvote a video deliberately.
Disliking a video is a way for people to bully or harass the video creator. By getting rid of the ability to dislike a video, YouTube is undoubtedly getting rid of the bullying aspect that can come with it.
2. Reduce “Stress And Embarrassment” For Creators
The decision was made to reduce the stress and embarrassment that creators feel when they receive a dislike.
When users dislike a video, it can cause creator anxiety, lead to adverse reactions on videos and even prompt some creators to abandon their channels.
The company said that the ability to dislike a video often signals disapproval. Still, they’ve seen that it can also communicate displeasure or frustration with a creator’s content.
Susan Wojcicki, YouTube’s CEO, mentioned in her January 25, 2022 newsletter;
“We also saw the dislike count harming parts of our ecosystem through dislike attacks as people actively worked to drive up the number of dislikes on a creator’s videos. These attacks often targeted smaller creators and those just getting started. We want every creator to feel they can express themselves without harassment.”
The company said that it had decided after consulting with creators and experts for months who had said that the dislike button had no meaningful difference in viewership.
Wojcicki continues to say that;
“So, we experimented with removing the dislike count across millions of videos over many months. Every way we looked at it, we did not see a meaningful difference in viewership, regardless of whether or not there was a public dislike count. And importantly, it reduced dislike attacks.”
3. To Discourage Trolls
Many people are happy about this change because it will make the YouTube community more positive.
This change was made to discourage trolls and mean-spirited people who try to put down other people’s creativity for no reason.
YouTube’s CEO continues to defend the move;
“Some of you mentioned dislikes helped you decide what videos to watch. However, people dislike videos for many reasons, including some that have nothing to do with the video, which means it’s not always an accurate way to select videos to watch. That’s why dislikes were never shown on the home page, search results, or Up Next screens where users were most likely to choose a video.”
Before this, there was a lot of concern among content creators. They worried that if they received many dislikes on a video, it would hurt their channel and business.
Can You Still See The Dislikes On YouTube?
You can’t see the number of dislikes on a video unless you’re the owner or have been given permission by the owner to view the statistics.
This is because YouTube doesn’t want people to be discouraged from posting videos because of a few negative comments.
However, the dislike button is still present and visible, and users can still use it to dislike videos that they don’t like. Although, many won’t be motivated to click on the dislike button.
So, What Does This Move Mean For Creators?
If creators find the dislike counts useful, they can still locate them in YouTube Studio, and viewers may still dislike videos to inform their suggestions.
Their experiments reveal that viewers could still see and utilize the dislike button, according to YouTube.
They were less inclined to target a video’s dislike button to push up the count because the count was not visible to them.
The dislike feature was previously seen as an essential way to measure a video’s overall quality and how it fared among the public, and that remains, but only creators can get this information. Many small creators can have peace of mind, knowing they won’t be harassed.
What Are The Possible Consequences Of YouTube’s Removal Of Dislikes Count?
It’s more challenging to distinguish between good and “bad” videos
When YouTube removed the number of dislikes a video had from its public interface, it made it more challenging for users to distinguish between good and bad videos.
Before the change, if a video had many dislikes, it was generally considered bad or untrustworthy. With the number of dislikes hidden from view, it is harder to make that determination.
Some people believe this will make it harder to spot fake or fraudulent information from reliable and trusted ones.
It’s even harder to distinguish between clickbait videos that provide accurate and valuable information to the audience.
Creators won’t receive accurate feedback on their content.
It will be harder for creators to gauge their videos’ reactions. Without knowing how many dislikes a video has, they will be less likely to take negative feedback seriously. This could lead to worse content overall.
Why Is YouTube’s Removal Of Dislike Count Happening Now?
YouTube’s removal of “dislike” counts comes as part of a broader redesign of YouTube’s website and app aimed at promoting “more respectful interactions,” the company said in a blog post.
YouTube is also changing its algorithms to promote videos that generate more engagement from viewers, such as those shared or commented on.
The move is an attempt to ensure that people don’t just watch but also engage with videos on the platform.
This announcement arrives as Silicon Valley faces heightened scrutiny over its products’ impact on mental health.
Companies have been evaluating how their systems target and affect their user base and what improvements they may make in front of new legislation.
The regulatory concern involves;
- Mental health
- Ad targeting
- Algorithmic misinformation boosting, etc
Facebook, Instagram, and other tech giants face increasing scrutiny over their products’ impact on mental health.
Instagram, for example, began testing the ability to conceal “like” counts internationally a few years ago.
It worried that focusing solely on gaining “likes” might harm its community and make content creators hesitant to express themselves.
The move died prematurely since neither Facebook nor Instagram could commit to a decision, so they reverted to putting the authority to conceal “likes” back in the hands of users.
How Does The Internet Affect Mental Health?
The internet impacts us in virtually all aspects of our lives; it has both positive and negative impacts on our mental health.
On the one hand, the internet provides us with many opportunities to connect with other people.
We can make friends from all over the world, share our thoughts and feelings, and learn new things. The internet also allows us to be more creative and expressive.
On the other hand, it can be addictive and isolating and contribute to stress, anxiety, and depression.
We can feel overwhelmed by the amount of information available to us or feel anxious about what others might think of us or our content.
Some of how the internet can negatively affect mental health include:
- Excessive use can lead to addiction and isolation
- Exposure to violent or sexual content can be harmful, especially to minors
- Through social media, it is possible to experience anxiety and depression through bullying and negative comments.
Since the change, many people have been up in arms about removing dislikes. Some people are convinced that it was an attempt to censor critical voices of the platform. Others feel that it is a step in the right direction and will help make YouTube a more positive place.
No matter the reason, it’s clear that change is inevitable. While users can’t see the number of dislikes a video has, they can still dislike it. Content creators are the only ones who can see the number of dislikes in the YouTube Studio and can use this criticism to improve their content.