YouTube has announced in an official blog post that the "dislike" count on all videos will now be hidden from public view.
While YouTube's like and dislike buttons have always been around, the seemingly imminent move stems from the company's recent experiment. In July this year, YouTube observed how the dislike button affected its creators and viewers. It was believed that having the dislike counts publicly showing has led to harassment. Upon hiding the dislike counts, YouTube studied if viewers were less likely to promote or engage in dislike attacks, with such attacks meant to increase the number of dislikes on a video. To maintain a more respectful environment among viewers and creators, YouTube has made it its responsibility to seek ways to reduce dislike attacks as well as creator harassment. YouTube clarified that while it will be making the dislike counts private, it won't be completely removing the dislike button as the like and dislike buttons are meant to give creators honest feedback on their work. As such, viewers will still be able to give their constructive feedback privately. Meanwhile, creators will be able to keep track of the dislikes that their videos have received through the YouTube Studio. Here, they'll be able to see the dislikes count along with other analytics concerning their video's performance.
Similar to moves made by popular social media platforms earlier this year - Facebook and Instagram, enabling users to hide likes on their posts - YouTube has also taken proactive steps to protect its users' and creators' mental wellbeing.
According to Psychology Today, social media "likes" are highly rewarding to teens for evolutionarily-driven reasons related to social belonging and status. However, while receiving likes can make one feel good, managing like counts can have a negative effect. As people start looking at themselves as "brands", they tend to succumb to deceptive like-seeking practices to keep up. From being mindful of high-traffic times when it comes to posting, making use of filters to make one look "better," to even buying likes, people have become very conscious of how they project themselves online. Such behaviour may be extreme for some but all humans have an evolutionarily-driven desire to belong. This desire is especially high during adolescence as we are more motivated to gain positive social status among our peers.
While this move may be deemed quite controversial, YouTube is standing by its decision. "We want to create an inclusive and respectful environment where creators have the opportunity to succeed and feel safe to express themselves. This is just one of many steps we are taking to continue to protect creators from harassment. Our work is not done, and we’ll continue to invest here," states YouTube in an official statement after feedback from users who saw the change as unnecessary and voiced their opinion during the initial experiment.
Written by Abby Rebong