The Reaction to the YouTube Dislike Button Changes

Jan 5, 2022 — Markerly Editorial Team, 3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A recent change in how YouTube displays dislikes on the platform has both casual video watchers and YouTube content creators talking.

Late last year, YouTube made the dislike count on videos private. However, they haven’t removed the dislike button entirely—the thumbs down button is still there, but the viewers of a video can’t see how many people have disliked it. This leaves the number of likes and the number of views as the primary data points by which viewers can “judge” a video.

The content creator can still see the number of dislikes on the video through YouTube Studio, and the viewer can still use the dislike button to curate their recommended section. The only thing that’s changed is that the poster is the only one that can see the like-to-dislike ratio. This article will go into why this matters.

Why Has YouTube ‘Privated’ the Number of Dislikes?

YouTube stated that this idea was implemented to encourage “respectful interactions between viewers and creators,” according to their blog update. The decision seemed to come as a reaction to smaller creators experiencing issues with people targeting their videos and rampantly disliking them, which, in the end, can affect that creator’s growth and success on the platform.

Here’s the bottom line: YouTube claims that making the dislike count private is supposed to prevent targeted harassment, protect creators’ mental health, and help create a more inclusive and opportunity-filled environment for everyone.

What’s the Issue, if There Is One? 

Just like any data point on the YouTube platform (number of views, likes, and subscribers), public dislike counts were used by viewers to make a decision about whether or not to watch a video or to trust it. In some instances, bombing a video with dislikes could be considered harassment or bullying depending on the specific circumstances, but this isn’t always the case.

People who go on YouTube looking for things like tutorials, recipes, news recaps, product reviews, etc., are at a disadvantage with this new change. Finding a good-quality video becomes more difficult with the public dislike button gone. 

There is no longer a way to instantly know that a specific tutorial is perhaps not delivering on the intended promises or is delivering incorrect information. A dislike counter can immediately suggest to a viewer that they want to pass on to the following piece of content for whatever reason.

Shielding the Public

Indeed, there are still ways to assess the quality of a YouTube video without making dislike counts public. For example, through the comment section (if it’s enabled) and the number of views (though a video can have millions of views for several different reasons). 

In the end, what has many viewers and creators frustrated with the ‘privated’ dislike count is this: It seems like the voice of the viewing community is being pushed to the wayside. To hide the dislike button is to hide one of the central representations of how a video was received.

The Corporation Angle

Some YouTubers and influencers have proposed that protecting smaller creators from harassment is only part of the reason for the changes in the dislike button. Both large and midsize influencers and YouTube creators like PewDiePie and YongYea have suggested that YouTube may have implemented this change to help itself and other large companies and corporations. But how would this benefit YouTube?

Well, ironically, YouTube itself has the most disliked video on the platform with almost 20,000,000 recorded dislikes on their 2018 YouTube Rewind. Some of the other top contenders for most disliked videos include those posted by Fox Star Studios and Cocomelon, both large entertainment-related companies.

Wrap Up

Though it makes sense that large corporations with a more extensive reach would attract more negative attention overall when the public receives their content negatively, correlation is not causation. In other words, there is no specific reason to think that YouTube actually did make this decision to protect their own image or the revenue of themselves and other large companies. 

The reasons given regarding the decision to hide dislike counts include 1) Protecting smaller creators and 2) Giving people a chance to grow and express themselves without being the target of “trolls”. This effort towards inclusivity is admirable if genuine and makes sense overall—but that doesn’t mean there are no negatives associated with the changes to the dislike button.

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