YouTube says it will hide public dislike counts on videos
YouTube has changed quite a bit over the past decade, but the like and disklike buttons have remained a core component of the platform for a long time. The buttons were intended as a quickly-readable metric of how a video performed with a creator’s audience, but they have become controversial in recent years, as bombing a video with dislikes became more frequent (usually by people outside of the video’s intended audience), and now YouTube is changing how dislikes appear on videos.
“Earlier this year,” YouTube said in a blog post, “we experimented with the dislike button to see whether or not changes could help better protect our creators from harassment, and reduce dislike attacks — where people work to drive up the number of dislikes on a creator’s videos. […] Because the count was not visible to them, we found that they were less likely to target a video’s dislike button to drive up the count. In short, our experiment data showed a reduction in dislike attacking behavior. We also heard directly from smaller creators and those just getting started that they are unfairly targeted by this behavior — and our experiment confirmed that this does occur at a higher proportion on smaller channels.”
Following the results of earlier experiments, YouTube is starting to hide the dislike counts on all videos, starting Wednesday. The number of dislikes will remain visible to the person who uploaded the video (through the YouTube Studio panel), but it will not be listed publicly. YouTube also isn’t the first platform to test hide metrics for likes and dislikes — Twitter is rolling out a downvote button, and Instagram has experimented with hiding like and dislike counts in the past.
The most-disliked videos on YouTube are YouTube Rewind 2018 at 19.67 million dislikes, Baby Shark Dance at 14.45 million dislikes, the Sadak 2 Trailer at 13.64 million dislikes, and Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ music video at 12.40 million dislikes. Most of the videos on the most-disliked list are there because it became a running joke online to find the video just to click dislike, instead of using it for its intended purpose — clicking the button if you’re watching a video and you decide you don’t like it.
This change likely won’t put a dent in YouTube’s worst problems, such as how the platform radicalizes people on a similar level as Facebook, but it might help smaller creators who are the subject of frequent dislike bombing.