YouTube To Hide Dislike Counts On Videos

YouTube is taking action over the thumb down option at the bottom of each online video, to stop the harassment of content creators.

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

The Alphabet division therefore announced that going forward, the dislike count (located on the right of the thumbs down icon) will be made private.

However the dislike button will remain and users can still dislike videos.

Dislike count

YouTube said that earlier this year, it experimented with the dislike button to see whether or not changes could help better protect its content creators from harassment, and reduce dislike attacks – where people work to drive up the number of dislikes on a creator’s videos.

YouTube said as part of this experiment, viewers could still see and use the dislike button. But because the count was not visible to them, it found that users were less likely to target a video’s dislike button to drive up the count.

“In short, our experiment data showed a reduction in dislike attacking behaviour,” it stated. “We also heard directly from smaller creators and those just getting started that they are unfairly targeted by this behaviour – and our experiment confirmed that this does occur at a higher proportion on smaller channels.”

It provided this video explaining its decision.

“To ensure that YouTube promotes respectful interactions between viewers and creators, we introduced several features and policies to improve their experience,” it stated. “

We’re making the dislike counts private across YouTube, but the dislike button is not going away,” it said. “This change will start gradually rolling out today.”

This also means that content creators will still be able to find their exact dislike counts in YouTube Studio, along with other existing metrics, if they would like to understand how their content is performing.

Anti trolling measure

YouTube said it wants “to create an inclusive and respectful environment where creators have the opportunity to succeed and feel safe to express themselves. Viewers can still dislike videos to tune their recommendations and privately share feedback with creators.”

“This is just one of many steps we are taking to continue to protect creators from harassment,” it added. “Our work is not done, and we’ll continue to invest here.”

Critics of the move will argue it will remove a valuable way for viewers to determine if the video is any good or not, or whether it is helpful.

But YouTube is clear.

This measure is being carried out because of the trolling behaviour by some users, who actively target certain content creators they don’t like, in an effort to stop their video’s being given a fair crack of the whip by YouTube’s discovery algorithm.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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