YouTube always had both like and dislike buttons way back from the beginning. The reason for this feature was straightforward from a product’s perspective.
The person who has viewed can let others on the platform know anonymously, whether they liked/disliked the video. And this also helped other viewers to decide whether to watch the video or not, based on the likes to dislikes ratio. YouTube even had a blue line beneath the buttons along with the counts to highlight the ratio.
It also served as an engagement feature for users alongside comments and subscribe/share.
Additionally, YouTube’s algorithms also relied on this to suggest videos for users on the platform. So if the video has an awful lot of dislikes compared to likes, it meat the video isn’t good, so it was less suggested. And if it was the opposite, it was suggested to more and more people.
But YouTube has removed the dislike count, even though the button is still there. Now users can still dislike a video, but it doesn’t show up anywhere.
Moreover, this is actually a negative thing for users because often, videos can be click-bait and misleading, where the thumbnail and title are not actually what’s in the video. This is especially true for tutorial and guidance/How-To videos, where dislikes actually helped users decide whether the video was good or not.
So why break a neat and nifty little feature, that users got quite used to and served a purpose while also being a good engagement tool? Why fix something that’s not broken?
YouTube claimed they removed the dislike count to help better protect creators from harassment, and reduce dislike attacks — where people work to drive up the number of dislikes on a creator’s videos.
But this doesn’t seem right, as these kinds of coordinated dislikes are very minimal and more of an outlier than the norm.
Moreover, the video creators already have the option to hide likes/dislikes from their side, which they can enable if needed. And the dislikes are still being shown to the creators, which defeats the whole purpose of protecting their mental well-being.
Also, it would re-route all the negative feedback to the comments section, which is actually way worse,as people can write whatever they want.
So why exactly did they do that?
All social platforms are trying to curb any kind of dissent by users against the content on their platforms. They’re also making sure any kind of negative interactions/feedback is also minimized. That’s why almost every social platform, except for Reddit has only positive interaction features such as likes, retweets, and reactions. For example, Instagram has only the like button( positive) and is also allowing users to hide the count. So YouTube eventually followed suit.
And most importantly, YouTube wants people to stay longer on the platform and watch more content. So if a video has higher dislikes and a user chooses not to watch it, ultimately YouTube is losing a view and potential ad revenue.
YouTube is owned by a major tech company Google, and they have to play nice with other giant entities and brands, who also post videos on YouTube. So a trailer from a Disney animated movie might have millions of views because of its popularity, but it might not be good which shows up in the number of dislikes. This negative publicity is bad for the box office success of that movie which affects Disney financially. Hiding dislikes count protects them from that. And the most dislikes are often seen for the videos of these larger corporations, and not small and independent creators, for whom YouTube said this change was made.