YouTube has announced its decision to change the “dislike” count of videos on YouTube private. The move is likely to be controversial because it affects the public’s view of how a video is received.
However, YouTube believes that the new policy will help defend its creators against threats of harassment and reduce the risk of what it terms “dislike attacks,” which is the act of a group joining together to increase the amount of negative feedback the video gets.
Although the number of dislikes will not be publicly visible, the company claims that it’s not eliminating the button for dislike. Users can still click the thumbs down icon on videos to indicate their displeasure to creators in private.
While they are at it, creators will track their dislikes through YouTube Studio alongside other analytics regarding their videos’ performance should they decide to do so.
The new approach follows an experiment YouTube conducted earlier in the year to test whether these changes could lessen the frequency of threats and harassment from creators.
In the past, YouTube said that public hate scores could impact creators’ health and wellbeing and drive targeted campaigns to increase the number of dislikes for videos. However, they could also indicate that videos are spam, clickbait, or deceitful, which could be helpful.
YouTube stated that it had heard from smaller creators and those starting with the site that hates attacks unfairly targeted them. The test proved that creators with smaller channels were hit with dislike attacks more often than the more prominent creators.
YouTube did not provide specifics or details obtained from those tests when TechCrunch was asked about it for them, however. It did, however, say it conducted tests for “multiple years” and carried out “an in-depth examination of effects” on which changes would affect creators and users alike.
The company was experimenting using various design options to eliminate the count of dislikes. One design was one in which”Dislike” appeared under the words “Dislike” appeared beneath the thumbs-down button, instead of the number of dislikes. This style the company has decided on and is not so much an unsettling change to the rows of engagement buttons located beneath the video.
It is not a unique platform for a significant company to play with the idea of reducing public exposure of the signals that indicate user sentiment. In the same vein, for reasons related to mental health, Instagram started testing to conceal its Like count across the world a couple of years ago.
It is thought that the emphasis on getting Likes can be harmful to the community it serves and could cause creators to feel uncomfortable using the platform to express themselves. In the end, there was no way that Facebook nor Instagram could be fully committed to a particular decision and instead gave the power to block Likes back in the hands of the control of users — a decision that effectively maintained the status quo.
The changes made by YouTube in its “dislike” count have been announced at a time that there’s been a lot of discussion about the impact of big-tech and its effect in the field of mental wellbeing, specifically for minors.
Businesses are rethinking how their systems are built to influence and target the users they serve and what kinds of changes they might implement ahead of the upcoming regulations.
In several markets, lawmakers are taking tech executives to public hearings, including YouTube YouTube, and are drafting laws to limit some of the most complex components. Mental health isn’t the only aspect of the regulatory landscape, but advertising targeting privacy algorithms boosts inaccurate information.
In the case of YouTube, the company has tried to stay ahead of the changes required by introducing more security and privacy options for users between the ages of 13 and 17 and reducing the potential of monetization for “unhealthy” children’s content. But the overall change in the market is making companies think about other aspects of their platforms that could harm large numbers of users.
But, YouTube told today’s removal of the dislike number is not guided by any regulatory changes. Instead, it is a sign of its support for creators.
“We are making this change because YouTube must safeguard creators, and especially smaller ones, from harassment and assaults,” a spokesperson said.
The company naturally is also rolling out this service when the race for talent is growing fiercely competitive between tech giants. Today’s social media platforms are creating funds to help retain their top creators despite increasing competition, especially from the ever-growing threat from TikTok.
YouTube recently announced the creation of a $100 million fund to kick-start its short-form platform for video, for instance. In the last few years, it has introduced several innovations and new policies aimed to improve the user experience.
The new changes to the number of dislikes will be rolled out across YouTube’s platform today and include all devices and the web.