YouTube announced today via a tweet that it is beginning to test a new design that hides the dislike count of videos from the public. It claims that the new design is in response to feedback about creator well-being and targeted dislike campaigns.
The like and dislike buttons have been integral to the viewing experience on YouTube for years, but dislike campaigns to express public dissent have become more prevalent in recent years. Many of these dislike campaigns target marketing videos, like the trailer for Nintendo Switch Online, but they also frequently target smaller channels or individual influencers, raising concerns over how those campaigns can impact the mental health and well-being of content creators.
In an effort to dissuade communities from launching dislike campaigns, YouTube is testing out hiding dislike numbers from the public to avoid feeding into those campaigns. YouTube is no stranger to controversies, and it seems to be trying to help creators deal with the internet masses should they find themselves in one. The tweet clarifies that creators will still be able to see exact numbers for a video’s likes and dislikes in YouTube studio, and states that the community can still leave likes and dislikes on a video to give generalized feedback to creators. The tweet also includes an example of how the test layout will look for the small group of creators participating in the test, which can be seen below.
The community reaction to the announcement has been mostly negative. Many complaints are being raised in the replies to the tweet, with YouTubers and community members alike voicing their opinions on the change. Many claim that removing the public-facing dislike count will allow bad or harmful content to reach a wider audience on the platform since viewers will not see all of the dislikes the video has received and know to avoid it.
Others say that removing it makes the site feel less social, as they will not be able to see what the general consensus is of a video or piece of content, while still others are saying that it will simply encourage the campaigns to target the comment section instead. The controversial new feature also comes amongst many content creators calling for changes in YouTube streaming to make it more competitive with Twitch.
The discussion surrounding dislikes on YouTube is a complicated one, but it seems clear that YouTube’s current plan is not satisfying many creators. YouTube looking to make changes to help creators maintain their well-being and mental health is a good start, but it may have to keep looking to find the perfect solution that helps dissuade toxicity on the site without removing features that community members like who act in good faith.