YouTube has announced thats the “dislike” count on videos will be made private across the platform. Given how much it affects the public’s visibility into a video’s reception, the decision is certain to be divisive. However, YouTube feels that the change would better protect its creators from harassment and lessen the potential of “dislike attacks,” which are when a group works together to increase the number of dislikes a video receives.
The company claims that while dislike statistics will be hidden from the public to private, the dislike button will remains. Users can still uses the thumbs down button on the videos to privately express their displeasure with the creators. In the meanwhile, creators will be able to track their dislikes in YouTube Studio, as well as others metrics about their video’s success, if they like.
The change is the result of a test YouTube conducted earlier this year to see if such changes will reduce dislike attacks and creator harassment.
YouTube said at the time that dislike numbers in the public domain might have an impact on producers’ well-being and may encourage targeted campaigns to add dislikes to videos. While this is true, dislikes can also serve as a helpful signal to others when videos are clickbait, spam, or deceptive.
Smaller creators and those who weres just getting started on the YouTube also complained that they were unfairly targetes by dislike assaults, according to YouTube. The testing proved this: smaller-channel creators were subjected to more dislike attacks than larger-channel creators.
When Techgigs inquired about the specifics of the studies or the data obtained as a result, YouTube declined. However, it claimed that it tested the changes for “several months” and did a “in-depth research of the impact” on both users and creators.
The company had tried many designs for removing the dislike counts, including one in which the term “Dislike” appeared beneath the thumbs down button rather than the number of dislikes. The company has finally agreed on this design, which is less of a change to the row of engagement buttons beneath a video.
The company would not be the 1st major platform to test the idea of making signals that reflect user opinion less visible to the general public. Instagram began testing to hide its Like counts globally a few years ago for similar mental health reasons. It was worried that focusing solely on gaining Likes might harm its community and make creators feel less comfortable expressing themselves on the platform. Ultimately, neither Facebook nor Instagram could commit to a decision, so they reverted to putting the authority to hide Likes back in the hands of users, thereby maintaining the status quo.
The changes to YouTube’s “dislike” count come at a time when there’s been a public reckoning about big tech and its impact on mental health, particularly among minors. Companies have been evaluating how their systems target and affect their user base, as well as what changes they can make in front of new legislation. Legislators in a number of markets have dragged tech executives to hearings — including YouTube — and are developing legislation aimed at reining in some of the industry’s more troublesome components. However, mental health is just one area of regulatory concern, which includes ad targeting, privacy, algorithmic misinformation boosting, and more.
In the case of YouTube, the company has tried to go ahead of some of the required changes by increasing safety and privacy features for users aged 13 to 17, as well as lowering the monetization potential for “unhealthy” children’s video. However, the bigger market change is forcing corporations to consider other aspects of their platforms that could be harmful to huge groups of people.
However, YouTube informed Techgigs that the removal of the dislike count today is motivated by its support for creators, not by any regulatory changes.
“We’re implementing this change ahead of schedule because YouTube has a responsibility to protect creators, particularly smaller creators, from harassment and dislike assaults,” a spokeswoman explained.
Of course, the company is doing so at a time when the struggle for creator talent is increasingly fierce among tech behemoths. In the face of the heightened & competition, particularly from TikTok, today’s social networks are establishing funds to retain their top creators. For example, YouTube launched a $100 million creator fund this year to help launch its short-form video platform. In the last year or so, it’s added a number of new features and policies geared at enhancing the creator experience.
Starting today, the dislike count changes will be rolled out globally throughout YouTube’s platform, including all devices and the web.
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