YouTube Discontinues Dislike Count on Videos

One of the conversations that has been sweeping across the internet has been rethinking the like button on social media platforms. Instagram for example, the site infamous for selfies and perpetual insecurity, recently gave users the option to hide the number of likes from their profile. The latest social network to change the like feature on their site is YouTube. YouTube is finding itself in a unique situation because the platform has always included a dislike feature, one of the only popular social media sites to do so. However, the company has recently chosen to private the dislike count on videos, with the number only visible to the creator.

Changing these features has been a topic of conversation for quite a while now, but YouTube had specific reasons for doing so. A phenomenon began to happen on the site where creators were targeted by what is called “dislike attacks”. This is when users spam a creator’s videos with dislikes. This could have an adverse effect on the user’s reputation and view counts, which in turn could impact earnings if the individual generates revenue from their videos. It is especially damaging to new creators who are still establishing their channel and public image. If the number of dislikes is not visible, there would be no motivation to “dislike attack” videos. While this sounds good in theory, it could also have negative repercussions.

On the converse side, hiding the dislikes on videos could warp the public’s perception of content on the site. For example, there is a lot of harmful content and misinformation all over the internet. If a user were to post a YouTube video that is offensive or misleading and the viewers overwhelmingly dislike it, there is no way for others who click on the video to see that. Instead, they will only see the people who hit the like button, skewing how the information is perceived. With how easy it is to be misled online, it could be argued that likes act as an objective take on the video.

Social media evolves at such a fast pace that platforms struggle to keep up with the ways users interact with the site. Targeting online harassment is something that companies will never stop having to deal with, and “dislike attacks” are just the latest form of trolling. YouTube removing the like button is a social experiment happening in real-time. Hopefully, this will be a positive step in creating a safer environment on the video-sharing platform.