YouTube co-founder and creators slam plan to hide dislike count

A YouTube co-founder has come out swinging against a decision by the company to hide dislike counts on videos.

The world’s biggest video hosting platform announced the change in a blog post on 10 November 2021, following an experiment earlier in the year. It assessed whether making the dislike counter private reduced what the platform has labelled as “dislike attacks”.

According to YouTube, there are instances where scores of users drive up a dislike count merely because they have a personal vendetta against a creator or their viewpoints rather than the content of the video itself.

That would then negatively impact the creator and prevent their videos from being recommended on the platform.

YouTube said its experiment found that users were less likely to target a video’s dislike button to drive up the count when it wasn’t visible.

“In short, our experiment data showed a reduction in dislike attacking behaviour,” it stated.

Due to its findings, YouTube decided to roll out the change across the entire platform, with dislike counts now only visible to creators within YouTube Studio.

YouTube claimed the move would promote an “inclusive and respectful environment” where creators had “the opportunity to succeed and feel safe to express themselves”.

It also published a video with YouTube Head Creator Matt Koval elaborating more on the decision. Ironically, that video has seen a disproportionate amount of dislikes.

YouTube might not be able to blame this one on a “dislike attack”, however, as a large number of users criticising the decision gave thorough explanations for their reasoning in the comment section.

YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, who features in the first-ever video posted on YouTube titled Me at the Zoo, also spoke out strongly against the move by editing his famous video’s description.

“Why would YouTube make this universally disliked change? There is a reason, but it’s not a good one, and not one that will be publicly disclosed,” Karim stated.

“The ability to easily and quickly identify bad content is an essential feature of a user-generated content platform. Why? Because not all user-generated content is good. It can’t be. And that’s OK.”

“The idea was, however, that among the flood of content, there are great creations waiting to be exposed. And for that to happen, the stuff that’s not great has to fall by the side as quickly as possible.”

“The process works, and there’s a name for it: the wisdom of the crowds. The process breaks when the platform interferes with it.”

Karim said the platform would decline following this decision and asked whether YouTube wanted to become a place “where everything is mediocre”.

He also claimed there was “something off” about Matt Koval’s behaviour during the video.

“The spoken words did not match the eyes,” Karim said. “I have never seen a less enthusiastic, more reluctant announcement of something that is supposed to be great.”

Karim’s view echoes many well-known YouTube creators, including Marques Brownlee (MKBHD), Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie), Linus Sebastian, and Louis Rossmann.

Among their criticisms was that making the dislike count private would make it more difficult for people to spot a scam or lousy tutorial, making YouTube much less helpful as a source of information.

Some users have also argued that YouTube is hiding behind the claim of protecting and promoting small users but is acting in the interest of the major corporates that advertise on its platform and drive up its revenue.

Those businesses often see a surge in dislikes on videos that promote campaigns or products that are not to users’ liking.

Now read: Russian crypto scammers target YouTube channels

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