Videos with “dislike attacks” — campaigns designed to get as many dislikes as possible — disproportionately hit smaller channels and newer creators.
YouTube is removing the visible “dislike” count of videos that enables users to see the number of people who dislike a video. YouTube, the largest provider of online video on the planet, said the move was an attempt to stop harassment campaigns based on “like attacks.”
The change “will start gradually rolling out” on Wednesday, YouTube said.
It will still be possible to dislike videos in order to tune recommendations and privately express displeasure with videos. Additionally to the private metrics creators have access to, they can also privately track the number of dislikes they have received on their videos. But the public dislike count will soon be removed.
YouTube said it experimented with changes to the dislike button earlier this year and found that smaller creators and those just getting started were disproportionately targeted for dislike attacks.
“We heard during the experiment that some of you have used the public dislike count to help decide whether or not to watch a video. We know that you might not agree with this decision, but we believe that this is the right thing to do for the platform,” YouTube said in a blog post Wednesday.
Another tech giant is trying to tweak a feature developed years ago that’s become a destructive force for some. Researchers have found that like and dislike counts are not only used for harassment, but can also harm some users’ mental health through social media. Following a test conducted in 2019, Facebook and Instagram announced the ability to hide public like counts earlier this year. Twitter began considering whether to restrict likes and retweets the same year.
On Wednesday, YouTube announced that dislike counts have been removed due to the company’s commitment to inclusivity, respect and safety on its platform. It said that this was “just one of the many steps we are taking to protect creators.”.
“Our work is not done, and we’ll continue to invest here,” the company said.
As of 2018, YouTube had the most dislikes of any video on YouTube with 19 million dislikes for its 2018 YouTube Rewind video, which was the erstwhile annual trend recap video. Even YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s own children called it “cringey.”