In February of 2019, YouTube Product Manager Tom Leung, shared a video in which he talked about dealing with the Dislike button. Back then, he proposed solutions against abusive use of the Dislike button which included everything from asking users to submit a reason before their dislike is registered to altogether removing the button. Well, two years later, YouTube has apparently made up its mind – hiding the dislike count for a small bunch of users.
The official YouTube handle on Twitter has revealed that the company is currently hiding the number of dislikes on videos. However, the change is being tested only for a small number of users. YouTube says that it is experimenting with hiding the dislikes counter after receiving feedback from creators about the impact of this disheartening metric on their mental health. Additionally, it will allow the company to tackle the menace of targeted dislike campaigns, or the dreaded ‘dislike mobs’ that have become a major nuisance lately.
Creators, you’ll still be able to see the exact number of likes and dislikes in YouTube Studio. For viewers, if you’re in the experiment, you can still like or dislike a video to share feedback with creators and help tune the recommendations you see on YouTube.
— YouTube (@YouTube) March 30, 2021
However, creators will still be able to see the exact number of dislikes registered on their video by accessing the YouTube Studio dashboard. As for users in the test circle for whom the dislike count has been hidden, they will still be able to register their displeasure with a video by tapping the thumbs down button.
Over the past few years, dislike bombing has become the weapon of choice for online communities to make their displeasure known, be it over genuinely bad content or with some ulterior motive. Take for example the 2018 YouTube Rewind, which raked in an impressive 10 million dislikes in just over a week. However, the dislike mob can also be politically motivated, gamers annoyed by a publisher’s shady move, or fans of a movie simply review bombing the content from a rival star or franchise.
While channels run by studios or corporations don’t have much to lose over dislike counts, those by individual creators have to suffer from the abuse in comments and the stress of accumulating a huge number of dislikes, especially if they didn’t deserve all that hate. It remains to be seen if, or when, YouTube enforces its hidden dislikes count policy widely.