YouTube’s latest change to ‘reduce their impact on creators’ sparks online storm

YouTube has announced it will no longer show the amount of “dislikes” on videos, in a new move to “reduce targeted dislike attacks and their impact on creators”.

Starting from today, users will no longer see a public dislike count, however they will still be able to register a thumbs down on the video for the uploader to view in private.

“This comes after lots of research, testing and consideration,” YouTube announced this morning.

The move reflects Instagram’s now-redacted strategy to remove “likes” counts from posts to apparently “minimise the stress of posting online”.

Creators will still be able to see dislike counts for the Community tab in YouTube Studio, alongside dislike counts for live streams.

“Unfortunately, research teams at YouTube have found there is this whole other use of disliking a video that I have never experienced,” Creator Liaison at YouTube Matt Koval said. “Groups of users have been targeting the dislike button to drive up the count, turning it into something of a game with a physical scoreboard.”

Koval concluded the trend was simply “because they don’t like the creator or what they stand for”.

“That’s a big problem when half of YouTube’s mission is to give everyone a voice,” he said.

Critics were quick to weigh in on the big change, slamming the company for removing one of the few tools users have to determine the quality of videos.

Some small creators rejected that the move would help their cause, suggesting the removal of the public likes count would only further prompt trolls to comment abuse instead.

Others suggested the platform’s move was to boost views for corporate channels, which traditionally receive a colder reception from the online community.

Teen Wolf director Stephen Ford was particularly critical this morning, accusing YouTube of “appeasing those entities”.

“They are removing it because entertainment, government, and media channels are constantly being downvoted. This is to appease those entities and boost watch time,” he said.

At the time of writing, the most disliked video on the platform, Youtube Rewind 2018, was uploaded by the site itself.

The video was bombarded with dislikes from the moment it was shared, with users unhappy the service refrained from mentioning several “grassroots” YouTubers and opting to pick Hollywood heavyweight Will Smith as host.

Rewind 2018 currently has 19.67 million dislikes.

However, Koval said removing the dislike meter wasn’t because of the record-breaking negative response the viral video received.

“No. But there are some teams internally that have learnt the hard way what it feels like to get lots of dislikes.”

To very little surprise, the platform’s official video announcing the move received 8,400 dislikes in the first few hours of going live. Dozens of content creators flooded the comments criticising the move to remove power from the regular user’s hands to rate content.

“‘To protect creators that suck, like politicians, big corporations that sponsor us, and astroturfed talentless on-demand era hacks, we’re preventing you from seeing how unpopular they are’,” Youtuber Styxhexenhammer666 (487k subscribers) posted under the video.

“This is the most offensively dishonest thing you’ve posted even for your standard. Dislike counts were essential to spot scams, fake/bad tutorials, clickbaits and were especially important as a tool to fight back against horrible megacorporation announcements,” Shyguymask (253k subscribers) said.

“There is no worse decision YouTube could possibly make. The community doesn’t want this. Don’t act like they do. The dislike bar is a necessary component and as you can see by this video, people aren’t having it,” the channel “Just Stop” commented.

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