Google experimented with a big YouTube user interface change earlier this year when it decided to hide the number of likes videos get on the platform. Google explained that the move should protect smaller channels from being attacked by coordinated dislike attacks. YouTube started the test in late March, and is now finally ready to roll it out to all users. YouTube videos will only show the number of likes going forward, with the number of dislikes remaining hidden.
Google’s decision is understandable, but not everyone will appreciate the change. And plenty of YouTubers pressed the dislike button on YouTube’s own video announcing the change.
YouTube’s dislike button is going away
Google explained in a blog post that the change is permanent. The company said that the data it gathered during the testing period convinced it to pull the trigger:
Those in the experiment could still see and use the public dislike button, but because the count was not visible to them, we found that they were less likely to target a video’s dislike button to drive up the count. In short, our experiment data showed a reduction in dislike attacking behavior 1. We’ve also heard directly from smaller creators, and those just getting started with their YouTube channel, that they are unfairly targeted by dislike attacks. Our experiment data confirmed that this behavior does occur at a higher proportion on smaller channels.
YouTube will continue to count the number of dislikes, but creators will have to head to Studio to find it. The public just won’t see it. The lack of dislike figures should reduce the number of hate attacks, but creators can still receive feedback from users in the comments.
It’s unclear how the feature will impact Google’s algorithms for YouTube. Google does say that people can continue to dislike videos to personalize their recommendations.
YouTubers already dislike the change
Google also pushed a video on its YouTube Creators channel, which has more than 4.14 million subscribers, to explain the dislike change. At the time of this writing, that 3-minute clip received 7.8 thousand likes and more than 28 thousand dislikes.
It’s clear that not all people appreciate the change here. And angry mobs have probably not attacked Google’s clip.
Google has tremendous artificial intelligence experience. It could always develop an algorithm that would only eliminate dislikes from the videos actively targeted in hate campaigns. But Google went for a measure that will impact all videos.
The only reason we can still see the number of dislikes on YouTube’s dislike video is that the feature is rolling out gradually. Eventually, the number of dislikes will disappear from public view. But Google will always know people dislike it. Just like they did with the YouTube Rewind 2018 video, which got 19 million dislikes to date.