In a statement on Wednesday, YouTube announced that they will stop publicly displaying the number of “dislikes” in order to protect content creators from targeted attacks and harassment. Critics have long cited the public nature of the number of likes or dislikes as harmful to mental health. With this move, YouTube joins the likes of Facebook and Instagram, which allow users to opt out of this feature. People using YouTube may still click the “dislike” button available under videos on the platform, but will no longer be able to view the total tally of dislikes.
In a recently released statement, YouTube stated, “To ensure that YouTube promotes respectful interactions between viewers and creators… we experimented with the dislike button to see whether or not changes could help better protect our creators from harassment, and reduce dislike attacks.” They further added, “Our experiment data showed a reduction in dislike attacking behavior.”
Content creators will continue to be able to see the total number of dislikes that their uploaded videos elicit as response from viewers.
YouTube said that creators with a smaller following or who are just starting out have reported incidents where they were victims of targeted attacks in which people would band together to intentionally distort their like-to-dislike ratio by mass disliking their videos.
The major social networking sites and online platforms are often questioned by lawmakers and regulatory bodies for not taking adequate steps to combat online harassment and cyberbullying. The recent changes on YouTube’s platform seeks to address some of those concerns.
After leakage of internal documents by a former employee and whistleblower, Frances Haugen, Facebook is undergoing a serious crisis of reputation. The documents allege that Facebook executives were aware of the potential their platforms had to become harmful. This leak has restarted talks about the necessity to regulate Big Tech companies. The concerns about the potential ill effects of Facebook also affected how other platforms are perceived. In a hearing last month, platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat had laid their case trying to persuade senators of the US Senate that their platforms were not unsafe for their young users.