YouTube has recently announced its decision to experiment with the hiding of dislikes on videos, in an effort to deter dislike mobs. These groups deliberately downvote videos from channels and creators.
The recent experiment is similar to moves taken by platforms like Instagram to curb the occurrence of targeted attacks but differs considerably from solutions previously discussed by the company.
Under the experiment, both likes and dislikes stats will be viewable on the individual YouTube Studio page of the creators, while only likes will be publicly displayed on their videos. YouTube offered more clarity on the test in a recent support article, which stated that dislikes can have a negative impact on the well-being of creators and may breed targeted dislikes campaign on the creators’ videos. In essence, it is believed that viewing dislikes and watching them rise could motivate individuals to join in and further escalate the numbers, giving rise to “dislike mobs”.
While dislikes and likes are a major form of feedback used by creators to navigate their content output, these useful features can be easily turned into another surface for abuse, much like purposefully giving negative reviews for games on Steam.
YouTube was considering three main options in its discussions on addressing these dislikes issues. These included hiding both likes and dislikes stats, making disliking a more tedious activity by mandating extra interaction, or removing likes and dislikes altogether.
The experiment fulfils half of the first option’s promise and is considered to be a fairly sensible option. Instagram conducted a similar test wherein it decided to hide the number of likes on posts. Although inherently positive, likes too can assert their own negative impact on creators, who often get involved in chasing high like counts to maintain their popularity and relevance.
YouTube’s experiment is not being conducted on all creators’ videos, but creators who notice it on their page can express their feedback on the YouTube site.