YouTube CEO defends decision to hide dislikes on videos

The Google-owned video giant started hiding public dislike counts on Nov 10, 2021. — AFP

LOS ANGELES: Not everyone is happy that YouTube has hidden dislike counts for videos. But YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki says the harms of displaying the metric publicly outweighed the benefits.

Wojcicki, in an update to creators Tuesday outlining 2022 priorities, acknowledged that the removal of public dislike counts was “controversial” and that some YouTube users had told the platform that number of dislikes helped them decide what videos to watch.

On the downside, YouTube saw that dislike counts were “harming parts of our ecosystem through dislike attacks as people actively worked to drive up the number of dislikes on a creator’s videos”, the CEO wrote, and such attacks often targeted smaller creators and those just getting started.

“We want every creator to feel they can express themselves without harassment,” Wojcicki wrote.

Over several months, YouTube ran tests in which it removed the public dislike count across millions of videos. According to Wojcicki, “Every way we looked at it, we did not see a meaningful difference in viewership, regardless of whether or not there was a public dislike count. And importantly, it reduced dislike attacks.”

Because people dislike YouTube videos for reasons “that have nothing to do with the video”, that means “it’s not always an accurate way to select videos to watch”, Wojcicki wrote. She pointed out that YouTube had never shown dislike counts on its home page, in search results, or in the Up Next recommended video screens.

The Google-owned video giant started hiding public dislike counts on Nov 10, 2021. Creators will still be able to find their dislike counts in YouTube Studio “if they find it a helpful metric, and viewers can still dislike videos to inform their recommendations”, Wojcicki noted. The dislike button also is a way to “privately share feedback” with creators, according to YouTube.

In 2018, YouTube itself was targeted by the most massive dislike attack in its history: The YouTube Rewind video recap that year set the record for the most dislikes of any video on the platform, sparked by users who felt the annual look-back compilation snubbed homegrown creators in favour of mainstream celebs like Will Smith, Trevor Noah and Marshmello. –

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