Google is removing dislike counts on YouTube
Google announced this week that it will remove dislike counts from all videos on the YouTube video platform. Dislike counts are made private but the dislike button will remain available to users according to the announcement.
Google ran an experiment earlier this year on YouTube which tested whether the removal of the dislike count would protect "creators from harassment, and reduce dislike attacks". Viewers who were selected for the experiment could interact with the dislike button but the count was not displayed. The data showed a "reduction in dislike attacking behavior" according to Google. The company has not published the data of the experiment.
Google's conclusion was to hide the dislike count on YouTube. The change is rolling out to all users over time and the rollout of the change started on November 10, 2021.
Content creators may still see the dislike count of their videos, and YouTube's algorithm uses the dislike action for its recommendation system.
At least some YouTube users will be displeased with the change. While YouTube does not display like and dislike counts on its search results pages, some have used the information in the past to determine whether to watch a video. Google admits as much:
We heard during the experiment that some of you have used the public dislike count to help decide whether or not to watch a video. We know that you might not agree with this decision, but we believe that this is the right thing to do for the platform.
Now, with dislikes not being displayed publicly anymore, that options is removed from the site. While the comment section may provide an answer, it requires additional time and some users may ignore the comment section because it is often filled with useless comments.
The like count does not reveal much about how helpful or good a video is. Take the YouTube Rewind 2018 video. It has 220 million views and 3 million likes. Sounds like a great video, does it? Problem is, the dislike count is at 19 million currently, which means that it has one of the worst ratios on YouTube.
Someone might create a formula using a video's view count and likes, and that might become a good metric until Google decides to remove one or the other as well from its site.
Considering that Google claims that the change is done for the content creators, would not it be better if content creators would get the chance to enable or disable the public display of dislikes and likes? Those who don't want the metrics to be publicly available could disable these in the preferences, similarly to how some creators decide to disable comments.
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