YouTube is beginning to roll out an update that will remove the number of dislikes a video has from public view in an effort to curb harassment and dislike brigading, the company announced Wednesday.
In a blog, YouTube detailed the methodology behind their research and ultimate decision to remove the dislike count on videos. Earlier this year, YouTube began experimenting with removing the dislike count, and says it found that users were less likely to target a video’s dislike button to ramp up the count. YouTube added that dislike attacks also disproportionately impacted smaller content creators and channels that are just getting their start.
YouTube users will still be able to “dislike” a video, but now the number of dislikes typically displayed right next to the thumbs down symbol will only be viewable by the video’s creator in their user dashboard, the YouTube Studio.
It’s an internet tale as old as time. Give users a way to upvote or downvote content, and eventually someone will find themselves the targets of people who join in the pileup simply to either discourage the creator, reduce the number of users seeing that person’s content, or flag the content for moderation in bad faith.
“Groups of viewers are targeting a video’s dislike button to drive up the count, turning it into something like a game with a visible scoreboard. It’s usually just because they don’t like the creator or what they stand for,” said YouTube creator liaison Matt Koval in a video accompanying the blog.
Koval jokingly referenced the infamous 2018 YouTube Rewind video, which currently holds the record for most dislikes at 19 million. Though saving public face might play a role in its decision, it’s hard to argue against reducing ways to bully content creators, and as we all know, bullies tend to feel more confident when they know they’re part of a larger group, so we might as well let them scream into the void.
Joseph Knoop is a writer/producer for IGN.