World’s largest video streaming platform YouTube has announced that it will test hiding dislikes avoiding “dislike mobs” from downvoting videos from creators and channels.
The experiment is not the same as the solutions the organization had previously discussed, but it is close to other attempts by a platform like Instagram to prevent targeted attacks. In the current configuration, all likes and dislikes statistics are viewable in a creator’s individual YouTube Studio tab, but only likes are publicly displayed on a video.
YouTube stated that dislike can harm a creator’s well-being and “may motivate a targeted campaign of dislikes on a creator’s video.” Essentially, the idea is that seeing a dislike number rise can be enough incentive to join in and increase the number.
👍👎 In response to creator feedback around well-being and targeted dislike campaigns, we’re testing a few new designs that don’t show the public dislike count. If you’re part of this small experiment, you might spot one of these designs in the coming weeks (example below!). pic.twitter.com/aemrIcnrbx
— YouTube (@YouTube) March 30, 2021
Creators rely on likes and dislike as a means of input to direct their creative development, but it’s simple to transform what could be a useful feature into another surface for violence, just like intentionally giving a game a bad review on Steam. When YouTube first revealed that it was looking at how to deal with dislikes, it said it was exploring three ideas: hiding the numbers for both likes and dislikes, increasing the friction associated with disliking something by needing more interaction, or removing likes and dislikes altogether.
This test accomplishes half of what the first choice promised, and it makes sense. If dislike numbers are a problem, why not hide them for a while and see what happens? When Instagram chose to hide likes on posts, it performed a similar experiment. While likes are inherently good, chasing a high like count can be detrimental to creators whose livelihoods are dependent on closely tracking interactions with their posts and appearing well-liked.
YouTube isn’t checking hiding dislikes on all creators’ videos, so if you see them on your profile or have an opinion as a viewer, YouTube is collecting feedback on its site.