Youtube Removing Like/Dislike Visibility
As the largest source of online video content on the planet, YouTube will be removing the public dislike visibility on videos. The intent of this change is to impede the “dislike attack” harassment campaigns. “We’re making the dislike counts private across YouTube, but the dislike button is not going away. This change will start gradually rolling out today.” according to their blog post.
This doesn’t mean that likes and dislikes are completely removed from videos entirely, the dislike button will remain. Viewers can still express displeasure with a video, but this time, only privately rather than publicly. Video creators can still privately track the dislike counts on their videos along with the usual private metrics. Simply that the public count of dislikes will be gone.
According to experiments conducted earlier this year, YouTube claimed that it found smaller creators and those just getting started were disproportionately the targets of mass dislike attacks. According to YouTube’s blog post today, “We heard during the experiment that some of you have used the public dislike count to help decide whether or not to watch a video. We know that you might not agree with this decision, but we believe that this is the right thing to do for the platform.”
Researchers believe that like and dislike counts have been used as a means of harassment, further supporting the belief that social media damages some users’ mental health. Other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, which introduced the option to hide public like counts in the first quarter of 2021 in accordance with a test conducted in 2019. Similarly, Twitter also explored the ability to obscure likes and retweets on their platform respectively.
The removal of dislike counts was because the company wanted to “...create an inclusive and respectful environment where creators have the opportunity to succeed and feel safe to express themselves.” As viewers can still dislike videos to turn their recommendations and privately share feedback with creators, this doesn’t change the fact that comments still exist.
While the only way to hide comments to a video is to disable them from being posted at all, removing any form of a public reception of a video, regardless of if the viewer intends to leave feedback, criticism, or outright harass the creator. Thus, there is no way for viewers to express their feedback and/or criticism privately. This also doesn’t change the fact that people that actively seek ways to harass a content creator will find other ways to do it beyond just a like/dislike button.