In early November 2021, video sharing platform Youtube (the second-most-used platform online) announced that it would remove the dislike counter from its videos. The platform however noted that the actual “dislike” button would remain, allowing users to dislike videos in order to influence their video recommendations, but wouldn’t be able to view the total dislikes of a video.
The platform justified this bold and controversial decision through a blog post as well as from its own platform. In both of these medias, the company justified their actions by saying that the decision was geared toward promoting respectful interactions between viewers and creators. The company stated that some of its research teams have found that use of disliking a video could have potential malicious uses, such as a target attacks from groups of viewers attempting to drive up the count of a dislike button. They then experimented in earlier 2021 with making the public dislike count private to check if they could reduce/prevent these “coordinated” dislike attacks. And after experimentation, they did see a reduction.
Now, to avoid potential criticism from people who stated that how viewers could determine whether a video was worth watching if the dislike counter was removed, the company stated that its research team looked at the data across millions of viewers and videos in an experiment (where the public dislike count was private) and didn’t see a clear difference in viewership regardless of whether users could see the dislike counter or not. They ultimately concluded that even if a video had more or less dislikes, users still watched nonetheless.
The Potential Effects
YouTube’s controversial decision to remove the dislike button will certainly result in definite changes for the platform and its creators. Here are some changes that could arise in the near future:
- By removing public dislikes, videos could potentially get more viewtime than normal. While YouTube stated that they didn’t see a CLEAR difference in viewership from a removal of the dislike counter, there could still be a slight difference that isn’t visible. This is because the lack of “dislikes” means that there is no quick public review of the user-generated content resulting in the viewer having to view the video for a set amount of time to determine its quality.
- The removal of public dislikes might change the type of content being published on YouTube. Since creators will be less punished for clickbait or other types of unpopular content (as they wouldn’t get ridiculed from a public dislike counter), they will have a greater incentive to post content that is unpopular in an attempt to gain more viewership.
- Many YouTubers’ creators’ health could improve from the change. As creators can now not see the dislike counter on their video/less prone to dislike attacks, it will result in them being less stressed with public dislike with their video. However, this could be a double-sided situation, as it can result in creators being more free-minded and careless with how they are managing their channel as they won’t face as much criticism.
In this article, we are not promoting or defending Youtube’s decision of removing the dislike counter. Instead, we are offering you the basic facts of the situation. As the future rolls out and we can see the clear effects, it will be more clear if the decision for removing the dislike count was warranted or not.