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Commotion: YouTube's "Dislike" Count

Christopher Frawley Christopher Frawley
4th April 2021
Commotion: YouTube's "Dislike" Count
This is not the first time hiding dislikes has been tested (Getty Images).

The Claim

YouTube is considering removing the public dislike count on their videos.

Emerging story

YouTube’s official Twitter announced on March 30th that they are “testing a few new designs that don’t show the public dislike count.” A part of this new design will remove the amount of dislikes publicly shown, but creators will still be able to view them. 

This is not the first time that the idea of hiding dislikes has been floated. In mid-2019, rumors circulated that YouTube might be implementing a change to the dislike system, but it was only recently that the platform officially announced they would be testing these waters. 

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Misbar’s Analysis

The dislike button is something that both creators and viewers argue over. On one hand, it can be a useful indicator to a creator that their audience isn’t happy with certain content, a warning to viewers that a video might be disagreeable to them, or even a signal that a video is disingenuous in some way. It is a very simple democratic process of agreement or denial.  On the other hand, dislikes can also be spammed as a form of harassing a creator. 

While many dislikes are organic (the result of a viewer not enjoying a piece of content), there are cases when a video may be “dislike-bombed” into submission. Even YouTube’s own content, such as their infamous “YouTube Rewind” videos, have been subject to this phenomenon. A negative like-to-dislike ratio can seriously impact a creator's channel, as their videos are highly dependent on YouTube’s algorithms for exposure. 

YouTube’s tweet stated that their new stance on dislikes is “in response to creator feedback around well-being and targeted dislike campaigns,” but some have come up with their own theories. One rumor is that YouTube is starting to implement this change because of one channel in particular: The White House.

The White House’s channel broadcasts executive orders, press briefings, and the like. Comments under these videos are disabled, but likes and dislikes are not. The ratio for virtually all of these videos is pretty abysmal, which has led some to believe that YouTube is changing their dislike policy to benefit the Biden administration. 

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Channels do have the option to completely disable public likes/dislikes and/or comment on their videos. The White House, for whatever reason, chooses to deliberately leave their likes/dislikes public. Furthermore, the channel is not getting much attention to begin with; most videos have views in the tens of thousands, a far stretch from the height of YouTube content. 

Whatever their reason for this possible change to the dislike system, YouTube is sure to receive as much backlash as usual from creators and viewers alike for yet another unpopular decision.

Misbar’s Classification


Misbar’s Sources

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