From the Editor: YouTube deserves a thumbs down for taking away the dislike count

(Kristen Frier)

(Kristen Frier)


“Other platforms don’t even have a dislike button,” said YouTube creator Matt Koval before ending YouTube’s recent announcement on removing public dislike counts. But one thing is clear: YouTube isn’t like other platforms, it’s a search engine and the second most popular in the world.   

The platform receives more than two billion logged-in users per month and feeds one billion hours of video to users each day. It makes sense for YouTube to showcase their dislike count, as search engine users need to be aware of what videos are worth watching. The like-to-dislike ratio on a video lets users know of the quality and information the content is presenting. 

If I look up a tutorial on how to change a car tire, I want a video that has clear audio and video quality, along with a step-by-step process. YouTube can’t be compared with Facebook or Instagram because those are sharing platforms, which most people use to share personal moments, and it isn’t the first place you think of if you are looking for tutorials. 

YouTube’s reasoning behind the removal was to protect creators “from harassment, and reduce dislike attacks — where people work to drive up the number of dislikes on a creator’s videos.” 

Louis Rossmann, an independent repair technician who has 1.69 million subscribers, is one of the many creators speaking out against the decision. In his video, Rossmann criticizes YouTube for not providing mental health support for creators, especially those who already have a big following. 

“If they cared about protecting people, what they would do is once content creators are at the point of making $30,000, or $150,000 a month, they [should] share therapeutic sources with them. They would have some way to make sure they don’t go insane,” he said.

What YouTube does provide are short video courses on “staying well and avoiding burnout,” under the YouTuber Creator Academy. But it’s uncertain if those short videos provide enough mental health support. 

The count will also apply for advertisements or campaigns by organizations, and this can pose another major concern, as it won’t let users know if the product being advertised or campaign is something you and other people might dislike. 

The inability to see dislike counts in advertisements or campaigns could be a form to control the consumer. 

The point of YouTube’s dislike and like buttons are to show the ratio of people who liked or disliked the video. Without showing the bad ratings, there is no point in having a like or dislike button if the goal is to have the ratio as a piece of information that tells users about the overall experience of the video. 

After YouTube was acquired by Google in 2006, Jawed Karim, one of the three co-founders of the platform and the first person to ever upload a video on YouTube agreed not to be an employee and simply be an informal advisor for the company. 

Karim is also disappointed with the idea of removing the dislike count. 

“When every YouTuber agrees that removing dislikes is a stupid idea, it probably is. Try again, YouTube,” he wrote on the “Me at the zoo” video description. 

Marques Brownlee has a technology-focused channel with 15 million subscribers. Brownlee made a “Dear YouTube!” video where he spoke against the idea of hiding the dislike count on the platform. 

During his video, Brownlee made an interesting comparison of YouTube and Etsy, the e-commerce company focused on handmade or vintage items. 

“Can you imagine if Etsy got rid of one-star ratings to protect the mental health of its sellers and to combat review bombing? It would work, but it would also decrease the usability of the entire site. The only difference is on Etsy you are trying to decide where to spend your money and on YouTube you are trying to decide where to spend your time,” he said. 

Before the announcement, creators who felt overwhelmed had the option to hide their dislike count from their viewers through their YouTube studio page. 

“We know that you might not agree with this decision, but we believe that this is the right thing to do for the platform,” the platform wrote on their news release. 

YouTube is like having a small TV with all the channels imaginable. There will be some channels you like, or dislike, and the thumbs are there to rate your experience which is what makes YouTube different from other platforms, as it gives a bit of power to the user.