Update: YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim dislikes the company's decision to remove the "dislike" counter—and he's edited the first video ever posted on the site to say so. Karim changed the description of "Me at the zoo" to ask why YouTube would make the "universally disliked change," which makes the dislike counter visible only to a video's creator, Mashable reports. He argued that interfering with the "wisdom of crowds" and making it harder to identify bad content will lead to the platform's decline. "Does YouTube want to become a place where everything is mediocre?" he asked. "Because nothing can be great if nothing is bad." Our original story from Nov. 11 follows:
YouTube is getting rid of its "dislike" counter. Under the change—to be rolled out gradually across all devices and the web beginning Wednesday, per Gizmodo—users will no longer be able to look to the number of likes and dislikes on a video to determine if it's good, valuable content. Users will still be able to like and dislike a video, and this will factor into video recommendations, but the total number of dislikes won't be visible to anyone but the creator. YouTube says this is to prevent creator harassment and orchestrated "dislike attacks," carried out by a group.
Officials tested ways to prevent such attacks—which were found to more commonly affect smaller creators than larger accounts—in a YouTube experiment earlier this year, noting the effect dislikes have on a creator's well-being, per Tech Crunch. When the dislike count was not visible to viewers, "we found that they were less likely to target a video’s dislike button to drive up the count," according to a YouTube blog post. The company says it also learned that the number of dislikes had no noticeable impact on viewership on average. Now, a thumbs-down icon will still appear below each video, but there will be no count below it.
"We are proactively making this change because YouTube has a responsibility to protect creators, especially smaller creators, from harassment and dislike attacks," a rep says, per Tech Crunch. The outlet notes YouTube is working hard to "retain their top creators amid increased competition, particularly from the growing threat of TikTok." (Instagram previously experimented with hiding its "like" counts, before letting users make the final call.) Notably, a YouTube Creators video explaining the change has received more than 7,000 likes and, visible as of this writing, some 23,000 dislikes. (Read more YouTube stories.)