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YouTube is hiding dislikes in a bid to stop public pile ons

The platform says the change will help protect smaller creators from ‘dislike attacking behaviour’

In ongoing efforts to crack down on the harassment of its creators, YouTube has announced that it will start hiding public dislike counters, gradually rolling out the change starting from November 10. Users will still be able to see the negative feedback on their own videos.

In a statement, the company suggests that making the dislike counts private will promote “respectful interactions between viewers and creators”. In particular, it cites a desire to protect its smaller creators from pile ons and public shaming via “dislike attacks”, which see people conspire to drive up dislikes on a certain creator’s videos.

The change doesn’t come out of nowhere. Back in March this year, YouTube experimented with the dislike button to see if changes could mitigate harassment on its platform. As it turns out, tests found that hiding the dislike count from viewers made them less likely to hit the thumbs down button in the first place — AKA a reduction in “dislike attacking behavior”.

Smaller creators and those that have recently started channels also told YouTube that they had been unfairly targeted by “dislike attacking behaviour”. This was confirmed by the data gathered during the experiment, which confirmed that smaller channels are disproportionately affected.

It’s worth noting, though, that the most-disliked video on the platform is YouTube’s own “Rewind 2018” (remember, the one with Will Smith?), which racked up more than 10 million dislikes in approximately one week. Presumably, the company hopes that removing the counter will help that fade from our collective memory, as well.

Other social media platforms have already let users hide metrics to mitigate harassment, with Facebook and Instagram letting users hide their likes from May 2021. Last month, Twitter also introduced a prompt to warn users about the “vibe” of a discussion, with similar intentions.

Taking it up a notch, meanwhile, the UK Government’s new Online Safety Bill threatens trolls who knowingly cause “psychological harm” with potential jail time.

“We want to create an inclusive and respectful environment where creators have the opportunity to succeed and feel safe to express themselves,” says YouTube of the new update. “This is just one of many steps we are taking to continue to protect creators from harassment. Our work is not done, and we’ll continue to invest here.”