YouTube has announced it will roll out an update that will remove the number of “dislikes” or “dislikes” a video has in an effort to curb harassment, the company announced Wednesday. In a blog post, YouTube detailed its arduous research and the ultimate decision to remove the “dislike” count on videos.
Earlier this year, YouTube began experimenting with removing the negative like count, and says it found that users were less likely to point to a video’s negative button to boost the count. YouTube added that hate attacks also disproportionately affected smaller content creators and channels just starting out.
YouTube users will still be able to click “dislike” on a video, but now the number that usually appears next to the thumbs-down symbol will only be visible to the video’s creator in YouTube Studio.
It’s an Internet story as old as time. Give users a way to upvote or downvote a piece of content and someone will end up being targeted by people who simply live to hate and discourage the creator, reduce the number of users who view that person’s content or flag content for moderation.
“Groups of viewers target the “dislike” button on a video to increase the count, turning it into something akin to a game with a visible marker. It’s usually because they don’t like the creator or what it represents,” YouTube creator liaison Matt Koval said in an accompanying video blog post.
This ends up being a double-edged sword. What was meant to be a tool for rewarding and punishing user content has become a tool for spreading hate and rating content according to values that don’t quite go with the creator’s work.