Starting today, YouTube will hide public dislike counts on content throughout the platform.
According to the firm, the change is intended to protect smaller creators from dislike assaults or harassment, as well as to foster “respectful relationships between viewers and creators.” The hate button will remain, but it will be used for private criticism rather than public shame.
This is hardly an unexpected action. YouTube stated in March that it was testing the option to hide public dislike statistics, while individual artists have long had the ability to hide ratings on their videos.
However, the fact that hate numbers will disappear for everyone (gradually, according to YouTube) is significant – viewers are accustomed to seeing the like-to-dislike ratio as soon as they click on a video and may use that figure to decide whether to continue viewing. That is no longer an option, although it may close a channel for harassment.
When YouTube tested masking dislike numbers, it found that individuals were less willing to use the button to criticize the author – remarking “I just came here to dislike” was apparently less fulfilling when you didn’t actually get to see the amount.
However, creators will be able to see the dislike numbers for their own video in YouTube Studio, so this behavior may persist to some level. According to the firm, well-meaning users can still provide private comments to content producers or utilize dislikes to fine-tune the algorithm’s video recommendations.
Other social networks have offered users the option to hide rating data as well – Instagram and Facebook, for example, allow you to hide like counts if you want to escape the possible social pressure that comes with having your primary measure of success on the platform displayed to everyone. It’s not a perfect comparison — the number of likes your YouTube video receives will still be public (if you leave public ratings on), and Instagram hasn’t turned off likes site-wide yet — but it demonstrates a growing concern about what data creators have access to versus what data their audiences have access to.
YOUTUBE HAS THE MOST DISLIKED VIDEO ON YOUTUBE.
Going private with dislike counts could help hide an unpleasant aspect of YouTube history: the most disliked video on the entire site is the company’s own Rewind from 2018. That specific recap video provoked such outrage that YouTube just announced that the yearly Rewind videos would be scrapped.
There’s also the issue that not being able to view public dislikes could lead to consumers watching a bad film — perhaps a fake apology or informative-looking content that turns out to be an ad.
Nonetheless, YouTube’s argument that it wishes to safeguard smaller producers from dislike mobs or harassment is difficult to refute. Some of the other ideas it floated to combat that behavior, such as needing further information on why you were disliking the video or graying out the dislike button until you’d viewed a specific length of the movie, are easy to foresee workarounds for.
Instead, those who leave dislikes will be doing it solely for the creator’s benefit — and yelling into the blank isn’t the same as openly booing.