YouTube Co-Founder Slams Removal Of Dislike Counts

YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim hits out at removal of public dislike counts on videos, and suggests it could ‘break’ the platform

The co-founder of YouTube has waded into the public row over the platform’s decision last week to remove public dislike counts on videos.

Last week YouTube justified the move, saying it would stop the harassment of content creators by trolls, and reduce dislike attacks – where people work to drive up the number of dislikes on a creator’s videos.

Content creators on YouTube are greatly impacted by the number of dislikes or likes their videos receive, which in turn influences the platform’s secretive discovery algorithm (which suggests what videos users should watch next).

YouTube © bloomua Shutterstock 2012

Dislike count

Following the change, users can still click the dislike button, but now the dislike count (which was located on the right of the thumbs down icon) has been made private.

But many YouTuber users and content creators slammed the decision, arguing that dislike counts give the community a way to express its preferences, as well as quickly identify misleading and spam videos that have been promoted by YouTube’s algorithm.

And the co-founder of YouTube is not happy as well.

YouTube was founded by three former PayPal employees, namely Jawed Karim, Steve Chen and Chad Hurley back on 14 February 2005.

19 months later, the three men sold YouTube to Google in November 2006 for $1.65 billion (£1.33bn).

Following a reoganisation in November 2010, co-founder Chad Hurley stepped down as CEO of YouTube.

Under Google’s ownership, YouTube became one of the world’s biggest streaming platforms, and it boasts more than 2 billion logged-in users each month, almost one third of the planet’s Internet population.

In April 2020, YouTube celebrated its fifteen anniversary of the first ever video uploaded to it.

Back in 23 April 2005, co-founder Jawed Karim had uploaded YouTube’s first ever video entitled “Me at the zoo”.

The video is 18 seconds long and shows Karim outside an elephant enclosure at a zoo talking about the length of elephant trunks.

The video has been viewed more than 202 million times.

Not a good idea

Jawed Karim opted to edit the video’s description, to publicly voice his opposition to the removal of dislike counts.

Karim began comparing the video last week in which Matt Koval, YouTube’s “creator liason,” announced the removal of dislikes to infamous footage of US pilot Jeremiah Denton, who was captured during the Vietnam War.

In 1966, Denton was forced to give a television interview by his captors, during which he blinked in Morse code to spell out the word “torture.”

“Calling the removal of dislikes a good thing for creators cannot be done without conflict by someone holding the title of ‘YouTube’s Creator Liaison’,” noted Karim. “We know this because there exists not a single YouTube Creator who thinks removing dislikes is a good idea – for YouTube or for Creators.”

“Why would YouTube make this universally disliked change?” he asked. “There is a reason, but it’s not a good one, and not one that will be publicly disclosed. Instead, there will be references to various studies. Studies that apparently contradict the common sense of every YouTuber.”

“The ability to easily and quickly identify bad content is an essential feature of a user-generated content platform,” Karim stated. “Why? Because not all user-generated content is good. It can’t be. In fact, most of it is not good. And that’s OK. The idea was never that all content is good. The idea WAS, however, that among the flood of content, there are great creations waiting to be exposed. And for that to happen, the stuff that’s not great has to fall by the side as quickly as possible.”

And Karim suggested the change could result in the decline of the platform.

“The process works, and there’s a name for it: the wisdom of the crowds,” said Karim. “The process breaks when the platform interferes with it. Then, the platform invariably declines. Does YouTube want to become a place where everything is mediocre? Because nothing can be great if nothing is bad.”

“In business, there’s only one thing more important than ‘Make it better’. And that’s ‘Don’t fuck it up’.” he concluded.