YouTube is experimenting with hiding dislikes to protect creators’ well-being

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YouTube has announced it experiments with disgusting disgust to discourage “disgust mobs” from deliberately downvoting videos from creators and channels. The experiment is a different implementation than the solutions the company previously discussed, but it is similar to other attempts made by platforms such as Instagram to nip targeted attacks in the bud.

In the current configuration, statistics for both likes and dislikes are visible in a creator’s individual YouTube Studio page, but only likes are publicly displayed on a video. In a supporting article YouTube explains the test, saying that dislikes can negatively impact a creator’s well-being and “motivate a targeted campaign of dislikes on a creator’s video.” Basically, the idea is that seeing a dislike rate and seeing it rise can be enough motivation to get involved and make the number bigger.

Creators rely on likes and dislikes as a form of feedback to guide their creative output, but just like giving a game a bad review on Steam on purpose, it’s easy to turn what could be a useful feature into another surface for abuse. When YouTube announced for the first time It was looking to tackle problems with dislikes, it considered three ideas: hide the numbers for both likes and dislikes, add more friction to something that isn’t nice by requiring extra interaction, or get rid of the likes and dislikes entirely.

This test does half of what the first option promised, and it makes sense in a way. If dislike numbers are the problem, why not just hide them and see what happens? Instagram was experimenting with a similar test when it decided to hide likes on posts. Obviously, likes are inherently positive, but chasing a high number of likes can have its own negative impact on creators whose livelihoods depend on closely following interactions with their posts and looking good.

YouTube does not test to hide dislikes from all creator videos, but if you notice them on your page or have an opinion as a viewer, YouTube collects feedback on its site.