YouTube recently announced that it is experimenting with temporarily removing the dislike button to prevent “dislike mobs” from negatively influencing content and channels.
In the last few years, the company has been working on solutions to tackle these “dislike mobs”.
Essentially, these are individuals that purposely visit a video with the intention of ridiculing it, regardless of the content.
According to feedback, creators say that the public dislike count can affect their well-being and motivate targeted campaigns of dislikes on a creator’s videos.
As a result, YouTube is testing designs that does not show the number dislikes a video has accrued. Instead, only the likes will be displayed publicly.
This aims to improve creator experiences, while still allowing viewer feedback.
“Creators, you will still be able to see the exact number of likes and dislikes in YouTube Studio. For viewers, if you are in the experiment, you can still like or dislike a video to share feedback with creators and help tune the recommendations you see on YouTube,” the company said.
The image below shows an example of what the experimental design looks like
Weaponising the dislike button
YouTube is one of the most popular online content-streaming platforms, and how its audiences respond to videos can significantly affect how that content is promoted.
Despite the dislike button’s function to provide constructive feedback for content creators, many have claimed it is being used to unjustifiably lower the appeal of certain videos.
In one recent example, reports claimed that “dislike mobs” had purposefully attacked the inauguration of US President Joe Biden following the 2021 US presidential elections.
A video shared on the White House’s official YouTube channel generated a flood of dislikes and negative comments.
YouTube previously confirmed it regularly removes any spam likes or dislikes from videos.
Critics have claimed, however, that this was an attempt to distort valid negative feedback.
Below are screenshots of Biden videos with high numbers of dislikes, which were shared on the official White House YouTube channel.