On Wednesday, Nov. 10, YouTube announced it will be removing the dislike count across its platform, citing concerns over creators’ wellbeing, which is, according to some, newspeak for more censorship.
“The dislike button is staying (& no plans to change that), but the number of dislikes on a video (i.e., the dislike count) will no longer be visible on the video’s watch page – for both videos and live streams,” the tech-giant clarified in an update while adding, “Creators: you’ll still be able to find your exact dislike counts in YouTube Studio for each video, only if you’d like to.”
The platform said its move was motivated by a sense of responsibility for its video content creators, to protect their feelings from getting hurt. This might be the case for some smaller creators and people new to the platform, who — the company figures — might be particularly vulnerable to publicly learning about too many negative responses to their content.
Publicly displaying too many dislikes might also invoke a dislikes’ storm with dire consequences for the creator, YouTube explained.
“We are proactively making this change because YouTube has a responsibility to protect creators, especially smaller creators, from harassment and dislike attacks,” a spokesperson for the platform told TechCrunch.
“We also heard directly from smaller creators and those just getting started that they are unfairly targeted by this behavior—and our experiment confirmed that this does occur at a higher proportion on smaller channels,” YouTube said in a blog post, without explaining which experiment it was referring to, let alone providing insight into the data that would substantiate the claim.
However, not all Youtubers believed this to be true. Many netizens took to social media to express their issues with the measure.
One user on Twitter, going by the handle Accursed Farms said, “This is kind of lame. I think dislike ratios can be helpful and reflect a populist sentiment. Medium ones usually mean something is controversial. High ones usually mean something is either wrong, really bad, or represents some related scandal going on.”
Another Twitter user, going by the handle Autism Capital, was even more enraged and fulminated: “YouTube removing the like/dislike ratio bar is criminal and maliciously evil. The erasure of the human opinion continues.”
So far, only YouTube itself has suffered the most from such massive dislike hurricanes, most notably for its infamous “YouTube Rewind 2018” video, which earned them the title of having produced the most disliked video in the platform’s history.
As of last April, the channel had garnered some 3.7 million dislikes for more than 300 videos, according to 81m.org. As per the same website, YouTube made a habit of censoring the dislike count, erasing some 8,000 dislikes per video on average at the time.
Other commentators on Twitter suggested that YouTube took down the dislikes feature to shield the White House from getting to know how poorly their videos often do, provoking considerably more dislikes than likes.
“We have policies and systems in place to ensure that the engagement on YouTube is authentic and remove any fraudulent metrics,” a YouTube spokesperson told the outlet via email at the time.