YouTube announced this week that dislike counts on all videos across all platforms would be private. The change starts rolling out right away. YouTube says it’s an attempt to discourage dislike mobs, which it has been trying to deal with for a while.
On Wednesday, YouTube announced that it would gradually roll out a change that makes the number of dislikes for each video only viewable to the uploader. Users will still be able to click a thumbs down button to tune what videos YouTube recommends them according to the blog post, but they won’t see how many other people disliked a video. So, content creators can still use the data, among other metrics in YouTube Studio, to gauge their channel’s performance. The change applies across all of its platforms.
For years now, YouTube has been trying to find a way to deal with the problem of targeted harassment campaigns that would drive massive numbers of dislikes to a user. So in March, YouTube experimented with this making dislikes counts invisible to users.
Those dislikes can decrease the number of recommendations a creator or video gets, limiting their channel’s reach and potentially their income. YouTube says it found this happens to smaller channels more often and that many users determine whether to watch a video based on the number of likes it got versus dislikes.
Whether hiding dislike numbers from the public stops dislike mobs remains to be seen. YouTube hasn’t said whether a high number of dislikes can still limit a video or channel’s recommendations. However, YouTube clearly considers the experiment to be successful since it is officially rolling out the change.