YouTube Is Now Hiding Dislike Counts to Deal With Its Harassment Problem

YouTube Is Now Hiding Dislike Counts to Deal With Its Harassment Problem
Screenshot: YouTube

YouTube’s Like and Dislike counters have been a fixture at the bottom of videos since what feels like the dawn of time, but now in order to combat harassment and so-called dislike attacks, YouTube will now begin hiding dislike counts.

In an official YouTube blog post, the company said that an experiment that hid dislike numbers on certain videos revealed that hiding dislikes reduced the frequency of dislike attacks (when users target a video with dislikes in a campaign of harassment) and could prevent specific videos from being targeted — particularly on new or smaller channels where dislike attacks occur at a higher rate.

But the dislike button isn’t going away entirely. After the change, which will begin “rolling out gradually” starting today, precise dislike counts will be private and only visible to the creator of the video in YouTube’s dashboard under the engagement tab.

In a short video explaining YouTube’s decision, YouTube creator liaison Matt Koval said that while likes and dislikes were originally seen as a simple way for viewers to mark if a video was good or not, some users have recently turned the dislike counter into a sort of game, often trying to drive up the number of dislikes, sometimes even as part of coordinated attack, simply because a user might not like the creator of the video.

Koval said that research done by YouTube found that the number of dislikes on video on average didn’t have a noticeable impact on overall viewership. So in essence, the number of dislikes wasn’t really serving as a tool to judge the quality of a video.

And while dislike totals are still visible to a video’s creator, Koval said that by hiding the specific figure deeper in YouTube’s dashboard, YouTube says dislike counts are less likely to cause a creator extra stress or anxiety.

Koval joked that some might wonder if this change was made partly to hide YouTube’s embarrassment about the 2018 YouTube Rewind, which with 19 million dislikes remains the most disliked video in YouTube history, but added that the update is really just aimed at protecting content creators of all types across YouTube.