Is YouTube right to hide the dislike count?


Fact Box

  • YouTube is an American video and social media platform that was established in 2005 by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim. 
  • On November 10, 2021, YouTube announced it would be making the dislike count private, but the button would still be viewable to users. Their rationale was to “promote respectful interactions between viewers and creators.”
  • In an experimental study, YouTube found that users were less likely to target a video’s dislike button to increase the count. They said, “In short, our experiment data showed a reduction in dislike attacking behavior.”
  • According to Statista, YouTube is the most popular online video property in the United States with 2.1 billion users worldwide as of 2021.
  • When Pew Research Center started tracking social media users, only 5% of American adults used one platform, but as of 2021, 72% of the public uses social media.

Hanna (No)

Criticism is important; it keeps our influencers accountable for the things they do and post. Because of this, viewers should know whether a video is worth watching or not. Logan Paul, a YouTube influencer, is an example of a creator who received backlash for uploading a controversial video surrounding Japan's 'Suicide Forest.' In this video, Logan Paul filmed a dead person they found in the forest, which caused a major backlash in his community. The reaction to the video eventually led to a lawsuit, and the video was removed. If viewers can't band together and show their detestation for inappropriate content, how will videos like these be removed in the future, especially when reporting videos has been proven to be less effective than wide criticism? 

Users have also pointed out another very serious flaw—the promotion of misinformation. Reddit users have commented that a large part of finding quality YouTube videos, specifically tutorials, are much harder to filter than before. Misinformed tutorials and scams can't be screened the same way users used to, and it wastes users' time trying to conclude whether a video is of good quality or not.

Smaller content creators have rallied against YouTube's claim that this decision was made with them in mind. While YouTube argues that it is to help creators avoid online harassment, content creators believe the platform is only doing this for sponsored brand videos, without consideration for anyone else on the platform. There was already an option for individual creators to remove dislikes and comments, so why enforce it for all other content creators?

Criticism helps us gain new perspectives, and taking it away further makes 'liking' content useless. It is hoped YouTube will bring dislikes back in the future.

Jimmy (Yes)

Increasingly, we live online. With that shift comes the proliferation of cyberbullying—an issue that Big Tech needs to address. To combat bullying, YouTube has announced it will hide the dislike counts on its videos. The thumbs down button will remain, but the totals will become private. YouTube believes, based on internal research, that this will discourage online campaigns from attacking users.

Bullying runs rampant online. A Pew Research Center survey reveals over half of U.S. teens have been the victim of cyberbullying. Studies show the risk for suicidal thoughts is twelve times greater in these victims. According to the CDC, youth suicide has increased by 60% since 2007. Running parallel to that increase is a 30% increase in young adults using social media.

YouTube is the second most popular website in the world. Each day, users stream a billion hours of video from the site. With YouTube becoming integral to how people entertain themselves, more users have turned to YouTube to make a living. Part of successfully monetizing a YouTube channel is driving traffic to videos. Traffic is linked to likes, making them an online currency in need of protection.

YouTube has acknowledged abuse on the site in the past and continues to adapt to create a fair and safe online community. Disliking a video is still an option to inform a creator of the resonance their content has. However, as dislike statistics help fuel online bullying, removing these from the site helps protect the lives and livelihoods of their users.

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