It was teased back in March, but today YouTube made it official: the platform will be removing the dislike counter. This means you’ll no longer be able to look at a video and think, gee, this isn’t a very popular video, I’m sure it’s just bad and not at all the result of a weaponised fanbase and/or political group.
The dislike button itself will remain, so you can make your feelings known if you truly must. It’s just the public counter displaying how many times the dislike button has been clicked that’s going away.
After testing the idea out earlier in the year, YouTube liked what they found:
At YouTube, we strive to be a place where creators of all sizes and backgrounds can find and share their voice. To ensure that YouTube promotes respectful interactions between viewers and creators, we introduced several features and policies to improve their experience. And earlier this year, we experimented with the dislike button to see whether or not changes could help better protect our creators from harassment, and reduce dislike attacks — where people work to drive up the number of dislikes on a creator’s videos.
As part of this experiment, viewers could still see and use the dislike button. But because the count was not visible to them, we found that they were less likely to target a video’s dislike button to drive up the count. In short, our experiment data showed a reduction in dislike attacking behavior1. We also heard directly from smaller creators and those just getting started that they are unfairly targeted by this behavior — and our experiment confirmed that this does occur at a higher proportion on smaller channels.
This should indeed help out smaller creators who are attacked like this, and help protect their channel from the adverse results of potential viewers seeing massively disliked videos.
At the same time, there’s also the unmentioned fact that this will help out massive companies whose videos can be disliked because they’ve done something fans feel is shitty. Or indeed a situation where a mass-dislike campaign is one of the only ways people can feel like they’re protesting in a world in which they feel increasingly powerless.
The dislike count will still be available to creators themselves, who can view numbers behind the scenes, and, “viewers can still dislike videos to tune their recommendations and privately share feedback with creators.” YouTube says the changes take effect from today, so if you can still see the counter at time of posting, that’ll be going away very soon.