YouTube hiding ‘Dislike’ count as an experiment: Is streaming platform fighting herd mentality or protecting YouTubers?

YouTube Dislike Count
Hiding Dislike count to protect YouTubers? Pic credit: StockSnap/Pixabay

YouTube has announced it will start hiding the total ‘Dislike’ count on some videos and for a few users. The online streaming platform claims the move resulted from “creator feedback around well-being and targeted dislike campaigns”

As part of a small but significant design overhaul, YouTube will test the removal of the Dislike count on a few videos. The experiment will reportedly have a limited but unspecified scope.

YouTube to test removing Dislike count and not the actual Dislike algorithm:

YouTube has announced that the platform is going to try obscuring the Dislike count on videos from public view. Besides the Like or thumbs-up button, there’s a Dislike button that viewers can hit to express their displeasure.

It is important to note that YouTube is not removing the Dislike button or its count. In fact, the platform will record the number of hits the button gets. The platform is merely attempting to hide the number.

In other words, creators will still have access to the video’s Like and Dislike count from YouTube Studio. Moreover, Dislikes will still help power recommendation algorithms.

This means YouTube will retain the algorithms and data that powers recommendations driven by the Likes and Dislike. It is merely trying to hide the total number of Dislikes a video gets from average viewers.

Moreover, YouTube also indicated that removing the actual Dislike count is just one of several designs that the platform is testing. The company also revealed another option that simply shows the same button layout.

However, the word “Dislike” appears underneath the thumbs-down icon without the total count. The thumbs-up button, however, has the total number of Likes.

Removing Dislike count to reduce the negative impact on YouTubers?

YouTube maintains the test follows feedback from content creators on “well-being and dislike campaigns”. What the company seems to be suggesting is that it wants to safeguard the mental wellbeing of YouTubers.

Amassing a large number of Dislikes can easily and negatively impact any video content creator. Moreover, there’s a rising phenomenon in which hoards of viewers merely visit a video to mash the Dislike button and raise the count.

Some experts indicate a significant number of Dislikes come from people who do not even view the video till the end. This suggests there’s a herd or mob mentality bent on maligning the content or the content creator.

Multiple social media platforms are battling an army of people who Dislike aggressively. Besides YouTube, Instagram has testing removing the number of positive engagements (Likes).

In Instagram’s case, however, the need to remove the Like count stemmed from the obsession with gaining clout. In the YouTube case, the Dislike count could be viewed as a hate campaign in some cases.

For example, back in 2018, YouTube’s own ‘Rewind Video’ became the most Disliked, and the trend has somewhat continued for no apparent reason. Some reports even suggest the platform could be protecting influential personalities.

While YouTube may not be protecting any particular personality or administration, the company did abruptly take down a large number of Dislikes from a particularly innocent-looking video. YouTube’s announcement of the new policy too appeared thereafter.

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