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  • Meerelle Cruz

YouTube Announces the Removal of Video Dislike Counts in an Attempt to Reduce Downvote Brigading

YouTube has stated that it will modify the way dislikes are displayed on videos, making the dislike count private to prevent abuse of the feature. The adjustment was made in response to user attacks in which the dislike option was utilized to impair a video's performance.


Groups of viewers are targeting a video's dislike button to push up the count, making it into something akin to a game with a visible scoreboard, as explained by YouTube's Creator Liaison Matt Koval, and it's typically just because they don't like the creator or what they stand for. When part of YouTube's aim is to allow everyone a voice, this is a major issue. As a result, YouTube conducted an experiment earlier this year in which it made dislike numbers private to see if this might affect coordinated dislike attacks. That is exactly what happened.

Viewers could still see and utilize the dislike button in this trial, but because the count was hidden from view, they were less inclined to target a video's dislike button to increase the count. In short, the results of their study revealed a decrease in dislike-attacking conduct.


YouTube claims it's also heard from smaller creators and those just getting started that they're frequently targeted by these brigade attacks, which its investigation confirmed. As a result, YouTube has decided to hide dislike counts across the board to lessen the harm and impact, as well as encourage more participation from a wider range of people.


This is a significant step forward. There's been a lot of discussion over whether or not public dislike choices are useful, with Facebook, in particular, being pushed to add a dislike button to its postings to provide another way for users to provide input on the material. Although Facebook has claimed that it will never add a dislike option, it has experimented with downvotes on comments and other similar components to elicit direct feedback from users.


Twitter has also experimented with downvotes in various forms, and Reddit has experienced a lot of success with community-based moderation as a result of user posts with up and downvotes. However, as YouTube points out, it can have detrimental consequences. A more visible example is the recent practice of movies receiving one-star ratings before they're even published because of their ties to cultural movements or political trends, while corporations have also been targeted by user review spam in response to controversies.


YouTube was tangentially linked to one of the more serious user feedback attacks in recent memory. TikTok was downvoted into oblivion on the Google Play Store by followers of popular YouTubers in India last year, before the app was banned in the country, due to a conflict between rising TikTok stars and existing YouTube influencers, as well as more general worries about TikTok content. As a result of the outcry, Google had to erase millions of spam evaluations of the app. Due to an unrelated geopolitical conflict, TikTok was banned in India shortly after, although the incident had a substantial impact on TikTok's success in the region at the time.


There's no doubt that negative reviews can be used to harm creators, platforms, or brands, and it'll be interesting to see if the removal of dislike counts has an impact in this regard, as well as whether YouTube's initial findings hold up over time and discourage downvote brigades from targeting creators.


It'll be fascinating to watch whether other sites take notice and pursue similar ways to potential downvote alternatives in the future. At the moment, none of the major platforms appear to be seriously considering adding downvotes as a broad-scale response option, but if YouTube's change bears fruit, it could be another way forward for soliciting direct feedback without the negative implications of disapproval based on a public count.


There's a case to be made that giving Facebook and Twitter users greater direct control over post quality would be beneficial, while both sites have consistently stated that doing so would have a negative, discouraging effect. Perhaps there is another path forward - and while they've no doubt contemplated it, now they'll have a live example of the process in action on a huge scale, which could affect how each platform views a prospective downvote procedure.


Creators will still be able to find their exact dislike counts in YouTube Studio, according to YouTube, therefore the feedback feature will remain available. Users, on the other hand, will not have a dislike count to depend on, which may have an impact on usage by restricting your insight into a video's performance. However, YouTube considered the consequences and opted to remove the count.


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