YouTube is completely missing the point by hiding dislikes

Photo Courtesy of Christian Wiediger, Unsplash

YouTube released a statement notifying users of the company’s decision to hide dislike counts from videos on Nov. 10. The new guideline comes after complaints surrounding online harassment were made by small creators who are more prone to “dislike mobs,” according to the Google-owned platform.

“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,” the YouTube team wrote on their blog. “Our work is not done, and we’ll continue to invest here.”

The site does not indicate what further initiatives they plan to take to mitigate harm, which has been some cause for concern among users, especially since all dislike counts will continue to be viewable to the creator. YouTube acknowledges that this is an inherently contentious decision and has responded to one of the most prominent criticisms received:

“ok if the creators can still see the dislikes then its not for ‘mental health’ like you’re pretending it is. its for protecting the image of the white house, media, corpos etc etc who otherwise have the facade of being trusted and well liked. Sad!” @shoe0nhead said on Twitter in response to the company’s update announcement.

The YouTube team explained that this choice is not to protect larger companies or corporations who advertise on their website, but for “reducing targeted dislike attacks on [creators’] channels.”

This is not about small creators at all. The “like” system is quite miniscule in comparison to the comment section, though this is not to reduce the negative experiences and potential harm affected creators have undergone through dislike mobs.

YouTube and other social media platforms operate as a forum for all users. The culture of it is far from a safe environment, as the YouTube team seeks to adopt. The decision to hide dislike counts from the public does not seem to be the appropriate answer.

YouTube has the right to remove any and all comments that violate their policies, even those extending to hate speech. If they were protecting the safety and health of channel owners, YouTube would advance their monitoring system. Current moderators have historically expressed concern for their own wellbeing and are advocating for more support from their employer.

Other users of the network explained that the “like” ratios immediately provided information about whether the video’s content was skeptical.

“This change is absolutely horrible and will only lead to harm your userbase,” said @Zari_Wari on a Twitter thread under YouTube’s post. “Dislikes were an excellent way to tell at a glance whether content was fishy, misleading, or had outright false information.”

In the interest of truth-telling and overall experiences of channel owners, YouTube’s latest guideline calls for reassessment. The intent behind the decision remains questionable, as it seems to be unproductive for smaller profiles and instead protects larger companies from public scrutiny.

The platform should still seek to take well-thought-out measures for substantive change within the YouTube community — for the safety of viewers, moderators and creators alike.