YouTube to hide dislike count from public eye - the button stays

YouTube app icon
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google-owned YouTube is following in the footsteps of Meta-owned Instagram and Facebook by removing dislike counts from public view on its platform. Starting today, users won't be able to see dislike counts, though the button would not go away.  This means while a user may still dislike a video, it remains private with the creator. 

The company, in an update via a blog post, said this was part of a series of steps that it would be taking to ensure that YouTube promotes respectful interactions between viewers and creators.  

Instagram tested and rolled out this feature around the same time in 2019. Earlier this year, both Facebook and Instagram allowed users the freedom to hide even the likes on a post through a new settings option. These measures were a result of many reports from mental health advocates who believe that public likes and dislikes were causing anxiety and stress in the post-Covid-19 world. 

To curtail digital harassment

YouTube claimed that they were aware of "dislike attacks" as a form of harassment on the Internet. If a group of people dislike a video for any reason, they can start targeting the dislike button in a sort of frenzy to drive up numbers and causing angst to the other side. The company said, its action to hide the dislikes from public view stemmed from this understanding. 

In the past, the company had experimented with ways to protect video creators on its platform from such organized campaigns. They beta-tested this idea earlier this year in March where dislike numbers were hidden from public eye for select users. 

The company observed a decline in dislikes and dislike attacks post this change as viewers were less likely to target the button if they did not see previous numbers. This, the company said, helped protect smaller YouTube creators, given that these were often the targets of such attacks compared with the well-known channel. 

The dislike button stays on

However, this doesn't mean that as a user one cannot dislike a video. Moreover, all YouTube creators would still be able to access the number of dislike their creations received. The reason YouTube decided to retain the dislike button is also to ensure that it helps tweak the algorithms that drive recommendations for individual users. 

While appreciating the thought behind this action, we believe that the dislike count performed one important action for those wanting to watch a video. It's absence will now mean that users would lose one means of ascertaining whether a video that has been served up to them is accurate or not. 

However, the company is quite clear that it is in no mood to entertain those who dislike the public removal of dislikes. “We know that you might not agree with this decision, but we believe that this is the right thing to do for the platform," it says. 

Incidentally, YouTube itself has faced several dislike attacks, none worse than the company's YouTube Rewind 2018 video that holds the dubious distinction of being the most disliked one on the platform with a record 19 million thumb downs. 

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Raj Narayan

A media veteran who turned a gadget lover fairly recently. An early adopter of Apple products, Raj has an insatiable curiosity for facts and figures which he puts to use in research. He engages in active sport and retreats to his farm during his spare time.